The Role of Virtual Communities in Gambling and Gaming Behaviors: A Systematic Review

Anu Sirola, Nina Savela, Iina Savolainen, Markus Kaakinen, Atte Oksanen
Journal of Gambling Studies 2020 April 18
Gambling opportunities are facilitated by the growth of the Internet and social media platforms. Digital games also increasingly include monetary features, such as microtransactions, blurring the line between gambling and gaming. The Internet provides a variety of virtual communities for gamblers and gamers, but comprehensive research on these communities and their relevance in gambling and monetary gaming behaviors remains scarce. This paper summarizes research of online gambling and monetary gaming communities based on a systematic literature review. A systematic literature search was conducted from five databases: Scopus, Web of Science, PsycINFO, Social Science Premium Collection, and EBSCOhost. The search was limited to empirical articles that focused on gambling or gaming involving money and examined online interaction between gamblers or gamers. Preliminary search resulted in 1056 articles, from which 55 were selected for the analyses based on pre-determined criteria. According to results, online communities serve different functions in gambling and gaming behaviors. Gambling communities are typically forums for discussing and sharing gambling experiences, strategies, and tips as well as gambling problems, while gaming communities are inherently embedded inside a game being an essential part of the gaming experience. Identification with virtual communities influences gambling behavior and monetary gaming behavior through mechanisms of perceived norms, social influence, and community feedback. Whereas some gambling communities may provide protection from excessive gambling habits, gaming communities seem to solely motivate gaming behavior and purchase intentions. The role of online communities should be acknowledged in prevention and treatment of gambling and gaming problems.

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