Such an overlap not only creates confusion but also regulatory hurdles and improper screening, diagnosing and therapy for people going through extreme conditions of either gaming or gambling. Gaming should be principally defined by its social interactivity, skills-based playing, and outcomes of winning or progress without the involvement of real money. By contrast, gambling is primarily defined by a desire to wager on games with the result that the player will either win or lose real money. The outcomes are completely dependent on chance.
Another reason the distinctions overlap is that both the gaming and gambling industries are constantly evolving. Both sectors effectively leverage the constant advancements in technologies to create games and applications that appeal to newer and diverse audiences.
A significant result of this is that digital media content, which was previously available only on single devices, can now be shared across multiple platforms and networks. This phenomenon is responsible for the crossovers of some gambling and gaming products, networks and device platforms. This has led to widespread concerns that the coalescing of boundaries between gaming and gambling may lead to ‘hybrid’ gambling, where betting houses adopt gaming features and vice versa.
The term ‘gambling’ has negative connotations while ‘gaming’ is perceived by the ‘entertainment’ value. Hence, promoters of lotteries and gambling products like digital gambling machines refer to them as ‘gaming’ to emphasize the ‘entertainment’ aspect.
Research makes it evident that there exist ample opportunities and potential for increased gambling, especially in the digital sphere as well as actual games with gambling features.
A 2012 report by Morgan Stanley Research outlines five principal ways in which gaming and gambling converge:
- Introduction of gambling features in social media games
- Cross-selling of digital gambling platforms or physical venues to social game players
- Introduction of social gaming elements to digital gambling platforms
- Consolidation of non-financial gaming and online gambling on sites owned by the same owner
- The so-called ‘gamblification’ of actual games where players can win items of worth.
Gambling is regulated by government authorities. Gambling addiction is medically and psychologically treated. This means there are various laws and rules, which contain carefully-worded legal language. Any semantic or syntactical errors can have consequences on the application of these rules.
It was recently found that in developing diagnostic guidelines for DSM-5 pertaining to Internet Gaming Disorder, there was a terminology handicap that prevented the inclusion of activities classified as gaming but did not have any elements of gambling. Ultimately, the DSM-5 Working Group agreed on the term ‘Internet Game’. They came to the conclusion that other qualifiers were still required.