Gambling starts with games, says SA Government

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CNET Editor

Seamus Byrne is the Editor of CNET Australia. At other times he'll be found messing with apps, watching TV, building LEGO, and rolling dice. Usually at the same time.

The South Australian Government has launched an anti-gaming awareness campaign and wants to put MA15+ ratings on games with simulated gambling.

The new anti-gaming campaign poster in South Australia.
(Credit: @DanNolan)

If you're an adult gamer who has played games since your youth, you may be shocked to discover you must be a gambling addict, according to the South Australian Government.

The South Australian Government sent the internet into a spin this morning when a new advertising campaign was noticed and shared widely on Twitter and Reddit. According to the advertisement for the Gambling Is No Game campaign (which uses the nogame.com.au web address), "Gambling starts with games," and a child staring at an iPad is essentially sitting at a poker table ready for a life lost to gambling addiction.

Within the "No Game" website is an announcement that the South Australia Government is aiming to introduce laws that will add MA15+ classification to games that contain simulated gambling. MA15+ is a regulated classification, meaning it would be illegal to sell games with slot machine or card game mechanics to those under 15.

While the latest Pokémon games have not featured slot machines, they did when they first launched up until the Diamond and Pearl editions. Such legislation would suggest these older Pokémon games would need to be classified MA15+.

"We'd like to say we're surprised at this type of hype from South Australia, but it's unfortunately more of the same unsubstantiated moral panic that we've become used to," said Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, the body that represents the Australian video-game industry.

Curry told CNET Australia that the "No Game" website refers to three reports, none of which establish a causal connection between playing simulated gambling games and subsequent monetary gambling activities. Indeed, one of the reports states:

It should be recognised that any sort of gambling during adolescence does not necessarily lead to gambling during adulthood. Although early exposure may familiarise young people with gambling, it does not always follow that involvement or interest in gambling at a younger age will be associated with subsequent gambling.

Curry noted that there is a South Australian election coming up in early 2014 and that this is part of "wider electioneering" by the government rather than a genuine attempt to protect children and inform parents.

"This view is supported by the fact that there was no consultation with industry in the lead up to this policy announcement and the subsequent 'awareness' campaign," Curry said.

South Australia has had quite a history with the video-game industry, having been one of the key states that prevented Australia introducing an R18+ rating for adult games through the last decade before its eventual introduction at the beginning of 2013.



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