Direct messaging via text messages (texts) and emails is a widely used method to advertise sports and race-betting offers. However, they have attracted little research, as this advertising is not in the public domain. This study aimed to determine whether betting expenditure is related to receiving direct wagering messages, and the specific inducements they promote. We hypothesized that receiving direct messages, particularly texts, would be related to betting expenditure within 24 hr.
In this ecological momentary assessment study, regular sports (n = 98) and race (n = 104) bettors from Australia completed short daily surveys over 1 week that captured exposure to direct messages, betting behavior in the previous 24 hr, and betting intention for the next 24 hr. Respondents were asked to forward any texts and emails received to the researchers, who coded them for inducement content.
Longitudinal analyses found that receiving emails was positively associated with betting intention, whereas texts were positively associated with higher likelihood of betting and betting expenditure. These effects persisted when controlling for problem gambling status and signature betting events. Refund stake and bonus odds inducements were positively associated with likelihood of race betting (although not in multivariate models), as were bonus winnings inducements for sports betting.
Discussion and conclusions
Direct messages, particularly texts, are powerful marketing tools, encouraging a nearly immediate, and arguably impulsive, betting response, which may increase gambling-related problems. Overseeing this private form of advertising presents challenges to regulators, and to public health efforts that aim to reduce gambling harm.
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.
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.
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.