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The hidden cost of those 'free' gambling apps Some of the most downloaded and highest-grossing video games in leading app stores use casino motifs for their designs, raising questions about the potential dangers of gambling apps.
Many popular gaming apps -- this is GSN Casino -- draw their look and feel from slot machines, blackjack tables and the like.
Game Show Network Many worries about the future weigh on Brett as he works his way through a gambling addiction program.
The 21-year-old's biggest worry after his release from the three-month program in California: encountering people, places and things that might trigger his urge to gamble.
But they're nothing compared with the biggest threat he'll face: his smartphone, and the many casino-style games available with a quick tap at an app store.
It wasn't long before his habit expanded to social casino games.
Played on a mobile device or PC, even via Facebook's website, such games mimic the slot machines best free slot machine apps for ipad card games in casinos.
The key difference is players can't win real cash.
They bet with the game's play money and, if they run out, they can spend real-world dollars to get more.
The games are 'normalizing gambling behavior,' says researcher Sally Gainsbury.
But he craved the excitement that came this web page betting real money.
Before long, he was placing bets in a brick-and-mortar casino, much to his financial detriment.
That's when he, and his parents, decided he needed to get into a recovery program.
These games, made for mobile devices, sparked Brett's gambling addiction.
Part of how he got hooked was the "freemium" nature of social casino titles -- a tactic that has become a lucrative new way of doing business within the video game industry.
The lure is simple: Pull in gamers with free play and, once they're engaged, entice them to pay for extras, such as virtual money, gifts and more turns.
A newfangled Vegas There are potentially many more Bretts out there.
Video games are more popular today than they ever have been, and their influence continues to grow.
For casino game makers, that's translated into a monthly audience more than three and a half times bigger than the masses who visited Las Vegas in all of last year.
GSN's casino app is among the highest-grossing apps in Google's and Apple's app best vegas online casino />Game Show Network The global audience for casino apps on smartphones reached an average of 145 million monthly active best free slot machine apps for ipad between July 2014 and June 2015 excluding Asia, which has not been recorded and makes up a quarter of the global marketaccording to SuperData Research.
Gainsbury, the gambling researcher, estimates the games will draw 269 million people worldwide best free slot machine apps for ipad 2016.
Those audiences are opening their wallets for the games too.
This past July, social casino games regularly made up a quarter of the top 20 highest-grossing apps in the Google Play Store, according to App Annie, a market analytics company.
Apple's App Store showed similar statistics for the month, with social casino apps consistently nabbing three spots in the top 20.
Both Slotomania: Free Casino Slots and Big Fish Casino: Free Slots consistently ranked in the top 10 in both stores.
Though the games can be played for free, revenues from purchases of in-game extras reel in millions for the biggest publishers.
Social casino apps for smartphones boast a monthly audience more than best free slot machine apps for ipad and a half times bigger than the masses who visited Las Vegas in all of last year.
Revenues from mobiles accounted for 61 percent of the total market during the quarter, compared with 50 percent in the prior year period.
The games alone aren't the only thing attracting customers.
Developers have hired high-profile celebrities to help to endorse them as well.
He ought to know: O'Neal said he often plays the games during downtime between watching and analyzing playoff basketball games.
He even recommended MyVegas to his five children, ranging from 9 years old to 19 years old.
O'Neal said he likes the games because they help make learning math skills fun.
Addictive drug or possible antidote?
For Liz Wooley, the games highlight an emerging and little-known social problem relating to video game addiction.
Wooley founded Online Gamers Anonymous after her 21-year-old son committed suicide in 2001 following two years he spent playing a game called EverQuest, an Internet fantasy game.
But when he got sucked into that game, he became a different person.
They say the stories of harm stem from abuse.
Game makers have struck deals https://nycwebdesigner.org/best/pokerstars-online-qualifier.html celebrities and popular brands to help increase their profile.
Game Show Network "It's not the games themselves that are addictive," said Andrew Pedersen, senior vice president and general manager of social casinos for the cable channel Game Show Network, whose GSN Games division makes casino apps for smartphones.
Tony Lawrence, a 58-year-old recovering gambling addict, and a counselor at the Aboriginal Gambling Help Service in Adelaide, Australia, says see more used social casino games as a teaching tool for himself and his clients.
Still, the freemium model presents a challenge.
Lawrence trains his clients to pick games where there aren't continual pop-ups for buyable extras, saying they can trigger the addiction.
Brett said gambling apps shouldn't be so pervasive, particularly because they make it harder for him and other gambling addicts to stay clean.
His solution: Move social casino apps to a separate section of app stores, so it's less likely a player will find them just by swiping through their home page.
Spokespeople for Google and Apple, which run the most popular app stores, declined to comment.
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