Crimping the croupier: electronic and mechanical automation of table, community and novelty games in Australia

Abstract

Technological innovation has increased electronic and mechanical automation to traditional games that replace or augment human croupiers, and also change how the games are enjoyed. Little is known about how these automated products may influence people’s gambling or entice new players to try these table and community games. Research regarding the characteristics of electronic gaming machines (EGMs) has provided insights into the potential consequences associated with technological enhancements. However, without knowing how these products differ to their traditional counterparts, it is difficult to begin to understand their implications on player expenditures and product safety. An Australian national environmental scan of these electronically and mechanically enhanced table-game and community-game products was conducted to identify the characteristics of these automated products Australia-wide. Based on EGM research (Armstrong & Rockloff, 2015), the “VICES” framework was identified as an appropriate organising principle for surveying the features of automated products. The VICES acronym specifies 5 criteria by which automated products might differ from traditional table-games: (v)isual and auditory enhancements, (i)llusion of control, (c)ognitive complexity, (e)xpedited play, and (s)ocial customisation. The findings suggest that automation provides the potential for the provision of products that intensify gambling engagement with the attendant potential for gambling-related harm. Further research, however, is needed to find if this potential harm is manifest in real-world gambling environments.

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