Poker legend Victoria Coren Mitchell caused a stir recently when she announced she would no longer be continuing her contract with a well known casino company.
The star, wife of comedian David Mitchell, is the only player in history to have won two European titles, and had a lucrative contract with Pokerstars.com. However, when they recently announced that they were to be branching out into online casino games, Coren Mitchell said: “I cannot professionally and publicly endorse it, even passively by silence with my name still over the shop.
“This is no criticism of PokerStars itself: business is business; they are providing a new service that people want, and I know they intend to abide by some key principles of responsible gaming.”
Online casinos may be a relatively new pursuit, but the theme of the casino has been an oft-used topic in video games, both old and new. But are they portrayed in a positive light? And, if so, what are the implications on today’s young audiences?
Take, for example, the wildly popular Grand Theft Auto series. In the re-release of Grand Theft Auto V, it was alleged that the famed ‘Vinewood Casino’ would be open for business, rather than its current format in which players can only look at the casino from the outside.
Red Dead Redemption, meanwhile, made by the same games producers at Rockstar Games, offers players an altogether more immersive experience, in which they can play games in the saloon and even place bets on violent practices. Clearly, in this instance, gambling is being portrayed negatively, which could in turn be seen in a positive light if it is to deter today’s young gamers from taking part.
But do all games have this stance? Rewind to the 90s where young children would play Sonic the Hedgehog on their Megadrive. Many levels have casino themes, featuring jackpots, loud noises and bright lights – insinuating a fun and exciting atmosphere for children. Indeed, this was before the era in which online casinos were so prevalent, but could it have been a sign of things to come?
Whichever way we look at it, there are good and bad implications to be had from casino themes in games – it is simply up to today’s parents to make sure the outcomes are positive.