The last few months have seen a dramatic increase in social gaming on major networks like Facebook. This industry has become one of the fastest growing online gaming markets with revenues reaching into the billions.

At we have been following the rise of social gaming. It affects the entire online gambling market and scratchies market in particular. With the online gambling industry opening up globally, there are many major social gaming companies looking to join the online scratch card and poker market.

With their virtual casino games, they have the ability to give the potential online scratch or slots player an idea of what it feels like to play these instant cash games. These games have the potential to have a positive or negative influence.

In a recent report in the Daily Mail, the debate of social games and the effect on the younger generation has been raised.

If used correctly many people looking to just play casino games for the thrills of playing and not betting real money, social casino games are the ideal method to practice their skills. However these casino games need to be played in a responsible manner and not be openly available to children.

As all online scratch card players are aware, the minimum age for playing scratch games is 18. While free-to-play casino games are in theory not real gambling, it is understandable how some parents would like to see some controls and regulations put in place.

The pace at which social gaming and social gambling is rising, it had become hard to differentiate between social gambling formats like online scratch cards and social gaming.

This new trend of online games however has resulted in some critics in the UK pointing out the dangers to young people who frequent these online social networks.

For many young people the chance to get a feel of what is feel like to play all the top casino games is becoming too easy with major social networks like Facebook offering virtual or free-to-play online based casino games.

The current situation had led to many parents asking themselves how it is possible that teenagers have such easy access to virtual casino based online games.

Giant social game maker Zynga accounts for over 12% of Facebook’s overall revenues. With  so many of these social gaming companies releasing casino orientated games like Zynga Poker and Zynga Slots, many are demanding that the UK government start regulating these free-to-play casino games.

While these games are in theory played for free, players are given incentives to purchase extra chips for real cash. Furthermore the virtual chips are able to be converted for real money currency on websites where people exchange their virtual winnings for real cash.

These virtual games have resulted in children being able to spend hundreds and even thousands of pounds on virtual chips and related purchases.

With hundreds of casino related social casino games available on social networks like Facebook, many are demanding that the Gambling Act 0f 2005 needs to be updated as it was drafted before the advent of social gaming.

Facebook of course denies these claims and a spokesman told the Financial Mail,” On Facebook we enable to people to play games with their friends in a safe, secure environment. All applications on Facebook are required to operate within a strict set of codes as set out in our developer guidelines.’

The scratchcard industry is at the forefront of offering softer forms of gambling and many have pointed out that playing scratch cards are one of the least harmful forms of gambling due to their low entry bets and social themes. Responsible gambling is key for the entire online gambling industry.

The social gaming industry is one of the most interesting sectors in the gaming world today. With the right controls it can continue to provide harmless online entertainment for millions. However the concerns raised of possible addiction by children who have unlimited access to virtual casino games should be looked into and monitored for the greater benefit of the entire internet gambling industry.