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Background and aims

Incentives for wagering products can provide extra value to gamblers. However, there is no financial reason why this added value should lead people to take greater gambling risks. This study aimed to experimentally test if wagering incentives cause gamblers to choose higher-risk (long odds) bets than un-incentivized bets.

Methods

An online experiment was conducted with wagering customers (N = 299, female = 12). Participants bet $4 on each of six video game simulations of a sport that they had wagered on in the past 12 months (Australian Football League, Cricket, or Soccer). Each game offered different common wagering incentives: Bonus bet, Better odds/winnings, Reduced risk, Cash rebate, Player’s choice of inducement, or No-inducement. For each game, participants could bet on long, medium, or short odds, and subsequently viewed a highlight reel of the simulated game outcome and bet outcome.

Results

Participants selected significantly longer odds (i.e., riskier) bets on games when an incentive was offered compared to the No-inducement condition. Better odds/winnings was the most attractive incentive, followed by Bonus bet, Cash rebate, Reduced risk, and No-incentive, respectively. No significant differences were observed based on demographics or problem gambling severity.

Discussion and conclusions

The choice of long odds with incentivized bets increases the volatility of player returns. Increased volatility results in more gamblers in a losing position and fewer gamblers with larger wins. Moreover, if long odds bets are priced to provide poorer value to bettors compared to short odds, they would increase gamblers’ losses and equivalently increase operators’ profits.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

A literature exists on the structural characteristics of electronic gambling machines (EGMs), which are design innovations that can promote spending excessive time and money on these games. Fixed-odds sports betting products, where bettors place sports bets against a bookmaker, have also seen significant innovations in recent years. Despite some differences between these gambling products, similar structural characteristics could also be relevant to sports betting. The aim was to review previous research on contemporary fixed-odds sports betting products, and to identify whether structural characteristics from the EGM literature are also relevant to sports betting.

Methods

Structural characteristics uncovered by two influential reviews of EGMs were identified, and their relevance to fixed-odds sports betting products discussed via a narrative review.

Results

Structural characteristics of payout interval and potential betting frequency (in-play betting), multiplier potential (accumulators, complex bets, multis), win probability and payout ratio (all bets), bettor involvement (custom sports betting products, cash out), skill required (all bets), and near-misses (accumulators, complex bets, multis) were all identified in modern fixed-odds sports betting products.

Discussion and conclusions

Fixed-odds sports betting products have increasingly incorporated structural characteristics previously found in EGMs. Future research could further assess the extent to which these structural characteristics contribute to fixed-odds sports bettors spending excessive amounts of time and money while betting. These findings can help guide further sports betting research, contribute to an improved understanding of the potential universality of gambling product design, and inform policy.

Open access

Abstract

Background and Aims

Excessive time and money spent on gambling can result in harms, not only to people experiencing a gambling problem but also to their close family and friends (“concerned significant others”; CSOs). The current study aimed to explore whether, and to what extent, CSOs experience decrements to their wellbeing due to another person’s gambling.

Methods

We analysed data from The Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA; N = 19,064) and the Canadian Quinte Longitudinal Study (QLS; N = 3,904). Participants either self-identified as CSOs (QLS) or were identified by living in a household with a person classified in the problem gambling category by the PGSI (HILDA). Subjective well-being was measured using the Personal Wellbeing Index and single-item questions on happiness and satisfaction with life.

Results

CSOs reported lower subjective wellbeing than non-CSOs across both countries and on all three wellbeing measures. CSO status remained a significant predictor of lower wellbeing after controlling for demographic and socio-economic factors, and own-gambling problems. There were no significant differences across various relationships to the gambler, by gender, or between household and non-household CSOs.

Discussion and Conclusions

Gambling-related harms experienced by CSOs was reliably associated with a decrease in wellbeing. This decrement to CSO’s wellbeing was not as strong as that experienced by the person with the first-order gambling problem. Nevertheless, wellbeing decrements to CSOs are not limited to those living with a person with gambling problems in the household and thus affect many people.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Nerilee Hing, Alex M. T. Russell, Matthew Browne, Matthew Rockloff, Catherine Tulloch, Vijay Rawat, Nancy Greer, Nicki A. Dowling, Stephanie S. Merkouris, Daniel L. King, Matthew Stevens, Anne H. Salonen, Helen Breen, and Linda Woo

Abstract

Background and aims

Gambling-related harm to concerned significant others (CSOs) is an important public health issue since it reduces CSOs' health and wellbeing in numerous life domains. This study aimed to 1) estimate the first national prevalence of CSOs harmed by gambling in Australia; 2) identify the characteristics of CSOs most at risk of harm from another person's gambling; 3) compare the types and number of harms experienced by CSOs based on their relationship to the person who gambles; and 4) compare the number of harms experienced by CSOs by self-identified gender.

Methods

Based on a national CATI survey weighted to population norms, 11,560 respondents reported whether they had been personally and negatively affected by another person's gambling in the past 12 months; and if so, answered detailed questions about the harms experienced from the person's gambling who had harmed them the most.

Results

Past-year prevalence of gambling-related harm to adult Australian CSOs was (6.0%; 95% CI 5.6%–6.5%). CSOs most commonly reported emotional harms, followed by relationship, financial, health and vocational harms, respectively. Former partners reported the most harm, followed by current partners, other family members and non-family members, respectively. Female CSOs were more likely to report more harm and being harmed by a partner or other family member, and male CSOs from a non-family member.

Discussion and conclusions

The findings provide new insights into the wider societal burden of gambling and inform measures aimed at reducing harm to CSOs from gambling and supporting them to seek help.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Nerilee Hing, Alex M. T. Russell, Gabrielle M. Bryden, Philip Newall, Daniel L. King, Matthew Rockloff, Matthew Browne, and Nancy Greer

Abstract

Background and aims

Skin gambling uses in-game items (skins) acquired in video games, to gamble on esports, games of chance, other competitive events and privately with friends. This study examined characteristics of adolescent skin gamblers, their engagement in monetary gambling, and relationships between skin gambling and at risk/problem gambling.

Methods

Two samples of Australian adolescents aged 12–17 years were recruited to an online survey through advertisements (n = 843) and an online panel provider (n = 826).

Results

In both samples, past-month skin gamblers (n = 466 advertisements sample; n = 185 online panel sample) were more likely to have lower wellbeing, score as having an internet gaming disorder on the IGD, engage in more types of monetary gambling, and meet criteria for problem gambling on the DSM-IV-MR-J. Past-month skin gambling uniquely predicted problem gambling when controlling for past-month gambling on 11 monetary forms and the total number of monetary gambling forms.

Discussion and conclusions

Underage participation in skin gambling is a growing concern. The strong convergence between engagement in skin gambling and monetary gambling suggests common risk factors may increase the propensity of some adolescents to gamble on these multiple forms. Nonetheless, past-month skin gambling predicted problem gambling even when controlling for past-month monetary gambling, indicating its unique contribution to gambling problems and harm. While the study was based on non-probability samples, its results strengthen the case for regulatory reforms, age restrictions and public health education to prevent underage skin gambling and its potentially harmful consequences for children and young people.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Nerilee Hing, Matthew Rockloff, Alex M. T. Russell, Matthew Browne, Philip Newall, Nancy Greer, Daniel L. King, and Hannah Thorne

Abstract

Background and aims

Purchasing loot boxes in digital games is akin to gambling as it involves risking money for a chance-based reward of uncertain value. Research has linked buying loot boxes to problem gambling amongst adolescents, but has not examined co-occurring gambling participation. This study examined links between loot box purchasing and problem gambling amongst adolescents while controlling for monetary gambling participation.

Methods

Two survey samples of Australians aged 12–17 years were recruited through advertisements (n = 843) and online panels (n = 826). They included n = 421 and n = 128 adolescents, respectively, who met criteria for problem gambling.

Results

Past-month loot box purchasing was significantly related to gambling problems in bivariate analyses. When including age, gender and past-month monetary gambling, loot box purchases were still associated with at-risk and problem gambling in both samples. As expected, these other predictors attenuated the predictive value of recent loot box purchases in relation to gambling problems. The odds-ratios, nevertheless, were still in the predicted direction and remained significant. When controlling for monetary gambling, age and gender, recent loot box purchasing increased the odds of problem gambling 3.7 to 6.0 times, and at-risk gambling 2.8 to 4.3 times.

Discussion and conclusions

While causal relationships between loot box purchasing and problem gambling remain unclear, the results indicate that loot boxes disproportionately attract adolescents experiencing gambling problems, adding to the financial stress already caused by gambling. Consumer protection measures, youth and parental education, and age restrictions on loot box games are needed to protect young people.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Loot boxes are a common feature in video games where players win, buy or are gifted a virtual box or other container that is unwrapped to reveal virtual items of value, such as skins, weapons, in-game currency or special abilities. The current study aimed to relate the use of loot boxes to gambling problems and harm.

Methods

An online survey was conducted with 1,954 adolescents and young adults from NSW Australia, 59.9% female (aged 12–24), recruited by online panel aggregator, Qualtrics.

Results

Buying and selling loot boxes was associated with higher 12-month gambling frequency and gambling problems in young adults, aged 18–24 (Problem Gambling Severity Index). Young adults who bought loot boxes additionally had more gambling-related harms (Short Gambling Harms Screen). Young women, aged 18–24, who opened, bought and/or sold loot boxes spent more money in the last 12 months on gambling. In adolescents, aged 12–17, buying loot boxes was similarly associated with gambling problems (DSM-IV-MR-J). Furthermore, adolescent girls who bought and/or sold loot boxes viewed gambling more positively than other girls (Attitudes Towards Gambling Scale). There was no evidence, however, that longer-term experience in opening or purchasing loot boxes, a differentiating feature of the survey, is associated with current gambling problems.

Discussion and conclusions

This study suggests that loot boxes may be attractive to people who are already predisposed to engage in other gambling, and females who use loot boxes may have unique vulnerabilities to gambling problems that could be explored in future research.

Open access