Making Money on Social Gambling

18 February 2022

Social gambling describes de facto online casinos and money-making apps that look like casual games and thus don’t have to follow the advertising policies of the iGaming sector. Why bother promoting a “casino” under the burden of ever-changing regulations if you can promote a “Viking crusade” to unlimited GEOs and age groups.

In this article, we will take a look at how such enterprises work, why they are so attractive for the audience if it’s so obvious that they are simply making a buck, and where marketers step in.

Why people come and what they pay for

Not all “gambling games” emulate casinos and betting shops. In general, social gambling or social casinos are games and applications that share the “pay to play” monetization approach. Such games rarely feature thrilling gameplay but involve tons of grinding, i.e. repetitive small steps to achieve a goal which is usually a level-up. The hook is — how can you join a clan if you don’t have a warrior’s gear, and how can your clan wage wars if you are dragging it down with your lame sword (you lazy bastard), and so on. Such games and apps are motivating users to make small donations to succeed within the game or to simply perform more than 10 actions per day.

Making Money on Social Gambling

Loot boxes are one more monetization opportunity. These are random in-game “surprises” that you can get for real money or as a part of some promotion. It can be a skin, an object, a promo code to buy some more stuff. Such loot is often worthless but players keep grinding hoping to win something valuable. There is also a mechanics when players get the super_cool_and_unique boxes for free, but they have to buy a set of keys to open the box. And the actual loot is often worth less than the keys. 

Making Money on Social Gambling

It is sort of obvious that you’ll have to invest more and more when the game keeps asking you for deposits to play, but it’s the idea of growth that you can achieve and the social interaction are kind of addictive. This is the social side of the games. Players want to interact, to be in league with and in style of the higher-ranking comrades. The social hierarchy of such games makes you want to pay for a faster social lift. Those who spend a lot on microtransactions and lead the rest are whales, they bring good profit to the product owners. But it’s incomparable to that brought by hamsters — players who make a few small transactions but they beat all other groups by sheer numbers. Thus, de jure free-to-play games built on microtransactions bring gazillions to their owners.

Besides, in many countries gambling is less frowned upon than 10 years ago and becomes normalized in society: in 8 years global downloads of social gambling apps (Android only) have increased by 42 times (from 33 million in 2012 to 1.39 billion in 2020). This gives developers an opportunity to promote social gambling for a wider audience with few to no limitations. Marketers can advertise such games and apps in Russia and China where casinos are banned or strictly regulated or they can target a 12+ audience (c’mon, these are just games, right?). Also, check out these curious stats on social games demographics. Surprisingly, for some GEOs it’s better to target a female audience more.

Gambling is evergreen and fast-growing

We are seeing more and more social gambling products and offers because they are easier to promote for advertisers with lower costs and risks. With a common casino, they would have to pay a jackpot once in a while — with a pay-to-play app they simply draw a picture of a treasure chest and give it to the lucky winner. The deposits in such games are usually small, and many people don’t see the actual amount that accrues behind dozens of microtransactions.

There is a slew of offers for marketers who want to tap into this fountain of unregulated wealth. The approaches differ too: we see many influencer campaigns, traditional PPC ads (native, banners, interstitials), video advertising (TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch). Social gambling apps for desktop devices are also promoted in social networks (three in a row, Zombie Farm, FarmVille, etc.).

If you are interested in the gambling vertical, it may be easier to start with social gambling games. You won’t have to conform to many regulations or cloak your campaigns to reach specific GEOs. Besides, you will be offering people entertainment, and it’s always easier to pitch a game than a vacuum cleaner.

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