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  • Author or Editor: Nerilee Hing x
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Background and aims

Despite recent growth in sports betting advertising, minimal research has examined the influence of different advertising message attributes on betting attitudes and behaviors. This study aimed to identify which attributes of sports betting advertisements most engage attention, interest, desire and likelihood of betting among non-problem, low-risk, moderate-risk, and problem gamblers.

Methods

A novel approach utilizing an experimental design incorporating conjoint analysis examined the effects of: three message formats (commentary, on-screen display, and studio crossover); four appeals (neutral, jovial, ease of placing the bet, and sense of urgency); three types of presenters (match presenter, sports betting operator, and attractive non-expert female presenter); and four bet types (traditional, exotic key event, risk-free, and micro-bet). A professional film company using paid actors produced 20 mock television advertisements simulating typical gambling messages based on the conjoint approach. These were embedded into an online survey of 611 Australian adults.

Results

The most attention-grabbing attributes were type of presenter and type of bet. The attractive non-expert female presenter gained more attention from all gambler groups than other presenters. The type of bet was most persuasive in converting attention into likely betting among all gambler groups, with the risk-free bet being much more persuasive than other bet types. Problem gamblers were distinct by their greater attraction to in-play micro-bets.

Discussion and conclusion

Given the potential for incentivized bets offering financial inducements and for in-play micro-bets to undermine harm minimization and consumer protection, regulators and wagering operators should reconsider whether these bet types are consistent with their responsible gambling objectives.

Open access

Background and aims

Few studies have examined the stigma of problem gambling and little is known about those who internalize this prejudice as damaging self-stigma. This paper aimed to identify psychological factors, sociodemographic characteristics, and coping mechanisms associated with the self-stigma of problem gambling.

Methods

An online survey was conducted on 177 Australian adults with a current gambling problem to measure self-stigma, self-esteem, social anxiety, self-consciousness, psychological distress, symptom severity, most problematic gambling form, stigma coping mechanisms, and sociodemographic characteristics.

Results

All variables significantly correlated with self-stigma were considered for inclusion in a regression model. A multivariate linear regression indicated that higher levels of self-stigma were associated with: being female, being older, lower self-esteem, higher problem gambling severity score, and greater use of secrecy (standardized coefficients: 0.16, 0.14, −0.33, 0.23, and 0.15, respectively). Strongest predictors in the model were self-esteem, followed by symptom severity score. Together, predictors in the model accounted for 38.9% of the variance in self-stigma.

Discussion and conclusions

These results suggest that the self-stigma of problem gambling may be driven by similar mechanisms as the self-stigma of other mental health disorders, and impact similarly on self-esteem and coping. Thus, self-stigma reduction initiatives used for other mental health conditions may be effective for problem gambling. In contrast, however, the self-stigma of problem gambling increased with female gender and older age, which are associated with gaming machine problems. This group should, therefore, be a target population for efforts to reduce or better cope with the self-stigma of problem gambling.

Open access

Background and aims

Social influences are key drivers of gambling, and can begin in youth through parental modeling and facilitation. Over time, social influence from friends and colleagues also becomes important. Social network analysis provides a method to measure the combined nature of these social influences. This study aimed to compare social influences across gambling risk groups, by examining key characteristics of the social networks, among Australian adults.

Methods

A total of 784 respondents (egos) reported their demographics, gambling behavior and gambling risk, as well as those of the 20 most influential people in their lives (alters). Egos also reported the strength of the connection between themselves and each of their alters, and between each pair of alters. Data were analyzed using egocentric social network analysis approaches.

Results

Egos in higher risk groups reported more alters who gamble, including a higher proportion experiencing gambling-related harm. Relationship strength indicated that egos in higher risk groups tended to feel closer to their alters, regardless of whether the alter gambles or not. Network density (interconnectedness between alters) was greater for egos in higher risk groups.

Discussion and conclusions

The findings indicate that both gambling behavior and gambling-related harm are normalized through social connections. Greater interconnectedness in the networks of higher risk gamblers indicates difficulties in reducing or removing these influences. The findings indicate limitations of individualised interventions, and instead highlight the important role of changing norms within society, which can be transmitted throughout these networks.

Open access

Background and aims

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Open access
Authors: Nerilee Hing, Alex M. T. Russell, En Li and Peter Vitartas

Background and aims

Marketing inducements for addictive products, such as wagering, can prompt impulse purchasing by triggering consumption reminders, urges, and cravings. Wagering inducements incentivize betting by providing bonus bets, money-back guarantees, deposits into betting accounts, and discounts. Their promotion during sporting events, push marketing efforts directed at consumers, and ease of uptake at the point-of-sale, may trigger betting on impulse. This study examined whether the uptake of wagering inducements predicted impulse betting on sport.

Methods

Australian sports bettors (N = 1,813) completed an online survey measuring their proportion of planned bets, impulse bets before match commencement, and impulse bets during play; frequency of using wagering inducements; and several psychological, behavioral, and demographic variables.

Results

More frequent users of wagering inducements had a greater tendency to place impulse in-play bets, which were also predicted by problem gambling, higher buying impulsiveness, higher frequency of watching sports, younger age, and higher educational status. Sports bettors with a greater tendency to place impulse bets before match commencement also tended to have higher buying impulsiveness and to be younger, but they used inducements less frequently, and tended to be female, less-educated and non-problem, moderate risk, or problem gamblers.

Discussion and conclusions

Uptake of wagering inducements appeared to be particularly effective in stimulating impulse in-play betting among problem gamblers and frequent sports viewers. These results suggest that a more cautious approach to the regulation of both in-play bets and wagering inducements may be required to better protect young adults from gambling problems and harm.

Open access

Background and aims

Public stigma diminishes the health of stigmatized populations, so it is critical to understand how and why stigma occurs to inform stigma reduction measures. This study aimed to examine stigmatizing attitudes held toward people experiencing problem gambling, to examine whether specific elements co-occur to create this public stigma, and to model explanatory variables of this public stigma.

Methods

An online panel of adults from Victoria, Australia (N = 2,000) was surveyed. Measures were based on a vignette for problem gambling and included demographics, gambling behavior, perceived dimensions of problem gambling, stereotyping, social distancing, emotional reactions, and perceived devaluation and discrimination. A hierarchical linear regression was conducted.

Results

People with gambling problems attracted substantial negative stereotypes, social distancing, emotional reactions, and status loss/discrimination. These elements were associated with desired social distance, as was perceived that problem gambling is caused by bad character, and is perilous, non-recoverable, and disruptive. Level of contact with problem gambling, gambling involvement, and some demographic variables was significantly associated with social distance, but they explained little additional variance.

Discussion and conclusions

This study contributes to the understanding of how and why people experiencing gambling problems are stigmatized. Results suggest the need to increase public contact with such people, avoid perpetuation of stereotypes in media and public health communications, and reduce devaluing and discriminating attitudes and behaviors.

Open access

Background and aims

Research suggests that a large proportion of regular sports and race bettors experience harm related to their gambling. In Australia, people who bet regularly are targeted by a proliferation of different forms of inducements and advertising – many of which are believed to encourage excessive betting and erroneous perceptions of risk. However, scant research has examined the impact of marketing messaging to this group, which is also limited to cross-sectional or qualitative designs. We aimed to determine whether exposure to wagering advertisements and inducements influenced intended betting expenditure, actual betting expenditure, and spending more than intended.

Methods

We report on an ecological momentary assessment study, measuring regular exposure to 20 different forms of marketing, as well as wagering spend from 318 race bettors and 279 sports bettors. Up to 15 assessments per participant were conducted over 3 weeks (mean = 11.46, median = 14), yielding 6,843 observations for analysis.

Results

Exposure to advertising and inducements was reliably linked to a greater likelihood of betting, higher intended and actual betting expenditure, and spending more than intended. “Push” messaging and inducements that convey the impression of reduced risk (stake-back inducements and multibet offers) were particularly influential, as well as brands promoted during events and advertisements on betting websites/apps.

Discussion and conclusions

Given that a large proportion of regular sports and race bettors experience problems, restrictions on these forms of marketing are advisable. These findings suggest that this is particularly important for marketing that is “pushed” to gamblers or that suggests reduced risk.

Open access
Authors: Matthew J. Rockloff, Matthew Browne, Alex M. T. Russell, Nerilee Hing and Nancy Greer

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
Authors: Daniel L. King, Alex Russell, Sally Gainsbury, Paul H. Delfabbro and Nerilee Hing

Background and aims

Social casino games (SCGs) are not technically considered a form of gambling but they do enable players to spend money in a game that is gambling themed or structurally approximate to gambling. It has been theorized that SCGs could be a gateway to gambling activities or otherwise normalize the experience of gambling for young people, particularly when money becomes involved. The aim of this study was to investigate whether adolescents’ financial expenditure in SCGs was associated with broader gambling activity, including level of participation, expenditure, and problem gambling symptoms.

Methods

An online survey was administered to 555 adolescents, including 130 SCG players (78 non-paying and 52 paying users).

Results

Paying SCG users tended to be employed males who play more frequently and engage in more SCG activities, who report more symptoms of problem gambling and higher psychological distress than non-paying SCG users. Paying SCG users reported more frequent engagement and spending in monetary gambling activities, and two-thirds of SCG payers recalled that their SCG use had preceded involvement in financial gambling.

Discussion and conclusions

Spending in simulated gambling activities by adolescents may be a risk factor for problem gambling. Although SCGs may currently defy classification as a form of gambling, these activities will likely continue to be scrutinized by regulators for the use of dubious or exploitative payment features offered in a gambling-themed format that is available to persons of all ages.

Open access
Authors: Lisa Lole, En Li, Alex M. Russell, Nancy Greer, Hannah Thorne and Nerilee Hing

Background and aims

The broadcast of wagering advertisements during televised sports matches has been associated with various adverse outcomes. In order to counter these effects, legislative bodies require wagering operators to include responsible gambling messages in their advertisements; however, the effectiveness of these messages is unclear. This study sought to examine the extent to which responsible gambling messages are looked at, in the wider context of gambling advertisements.

Methods

Forty-nine regular sports bettors and 10 non-gamblers viewed a series of sports betting advertisements, while an eye-tracker recorded the number of fixations placed on responsible gambling messages, as well as other text-based wagering content.

Results

Responsible gambling messages were, generally, presented in a non-conspicuous manner. Eye-tracking data revealed that significantly fewer fixations were placed on responsible gambling messages, compared to wagering information (p < .001); however, this effect did not differ according to level of gambling risk (p = .169). The number of fixations placed on the different types of responsible gambling messages was found to vary, based on gambling risk (p = .006), as well as, what appears to be, the physical characteristics of these messages.

Discussion

Very few fixations were placed on, or near, responsible gambling messages, compared to other wagering information, meaning that, in their current form, they are unlikely to be effective in protecting against gambling harm. Preliminary evidence shows that presenting messages on a high-contrast/block-color background increases the number of fixations on these.

Conclusion

Further research is needed to identify ways of increasing the effectiveness of responsible gambling initiatives in the sports betting context.

Open access