The current study aimed to assess how sports bettors respond to advertised bets on social media and whether this differs dependent upon bet complexity and social media account type.
Employing a 3 × 2 repeated measures design, 145 regular football bettors were recruited to take part in an online study requiring them to rate bets advertised upon social media, providing indications of their likelihood to bet, confidence in the bet and how much they would stake on the bet. Advertised bets differed in terms of complexity (low, medium and high) and each bet was presented separately on both an operator account and an affiliate account.
Data analysis highlighted a significant interaction between bet complexity and account type, with bettors rating themselves as being more likely to bet and more confident in bets which were presented on an affiliate account for medium complexity bets but not for low or high complexity bets.
Discussion and conclusions
This study provides initial evidence that affiliate marketing of sports betting increases bettor's confidence in certain types of bets. This heightens previously addressed concerns around affiliate marketing, given that affiliates are financially incentivised to attract custom toward gambling operators. Future research should explore risk factors for increased uptake of affiliate marketing, and the impact on gambling behaviour.
Whilst some research has explored the impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour, little is yet known about online search behaviours for gambling during this period. The current study explored gambling-related online searches before, during and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. We also assessed whether search trends were related to Gambling Commission behavioural data over the same period.
Google Trends™ search data, covering thirty months from January 2020 to June 2022, for five gambling activities and five gambling operators were downloaded. Graphical displays of the weekly relative search values over this period were then produced to visualise trends in search terms, with key dates in COVID-19 policy and sporting events highlighted. Cross-correlations between seasonally adjusted monthly search data and behavioural indices were conducted.
Sharp increases in internet searches for poker, slots, and bingo were evident during the first lockdown in the UK, with operator searches sharply decreasing over this period. No changes in gambling activity searches were highlighted during subsequent lockdowns, although small increases in operator-based searches were detected. Strong positive correlations were found between search data and industry data for sports betting and poker but not for slots.
Google Trends™ data may act as an indicator of population-level gambling behaviour. Substitution of preferred gambling activities for others may have occurred during the first lockdown when opportunities for sports betting were limited. Further research is needed to assess the effectiveness of internet search data in predicting gambling-related harm.