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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
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:
Alex M.T. Russell
,
Matthew Browne
,
Nerilee Hing
,
Matthew Rockloff
,
Philip Newall
,
Nicki A. Dowling
,
Stephanie Merkouris
,
Daniel L. King
,
Matthew Stevens
,
Anne H. Salonen
,
Helen Breen
,
Nancy Greer
,
Hannah B. Thorne
,
Tess Visintin
,
Vijay Rawat
, and
Linda Woo

Abstract

Background

Electronic gaming machines (EGMs) are one of the most harmful forms of gambling at an individual level. It is unclear whether restriction of EGM functions and accessibility results in meaningful reductions in population-level gambling harm.

Methods

A natural policy experiment using a large (N = 15,000) national dataset weighted to standard population variables was employed to compare estimates of gambling problems between Australian residents in Western Australia (WA), where EGMs are restricted to one venue and have different structural features, to residents in other Australian jurisdictions where EGMs are widely accessible in casinos, hotels and clubs. Accessibility of other gambling forms is similar across jurisdictions.

Results

Gambling participation was higher in WA, but EGM participation was approximately half that of the rest of Australia. Aggregate gambling problems and harm were about one-third lower in WA, and self-reported attribution of harm from EGMs by gamblers and affected others was 2.7× and 4× lower, respectively. Mediation analyses found that less frequent EGM use in WA accounted for the vast majority of the discrepancy in gambling problems (indirect path = −0.055, 95% CI −0.071; −0.038). Moderation analyses found that EGMs are the form most strongly associated with problems, and the strength of this relationship did not differ significantly across jurisdictions.

Discussion

Lower harm from gambling in WA is attributable to restricted accessibility of EGMs, rather than different structural features. There appears to be little transfer of problems to other gambling forms. These results suggest that restricting the accessibility of EGMs substantially reduces gambling harm.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Nerilee Hing
,
Alex M.T. Russell
,
Vijay Rawat
,
Gabrielle M. Bryden
,
Matthew Browne
,
Matthew Rockloff
,
Hannah B. Thorne
,
Philip Newall
,
Nicki A. Dowling
,
Stephanie S. Merkouris
, and
Matthew Stevens

Abstract

Background and aims

COVID-19 lockdowns limited access to gambling but simultaneously elevated psychosocial stressors. This study assessed the relative effects of these changes on gambling risk status during and after the Australian COVID-19 lockdown from late-March to late-May 2020.

Methods

The study administered three surveys to people who had gambled within the past year at T1. Wave 1 asked about before (T1, N = 2,125) and during lockdown (T2, N = 2,125). Subsequent surveys focused on one year (T3; N = 649) and two years after lockdown (T4, N = 458). The dependent variable was changes in reporting any problem gambling symptoms (PGSI 0 vs 1+). Bivariate analyses and multinomial logistic regression tested for significant associations with: demographics, psychosocial stressors (perceived stress, psychological distress, loneliness, health anxiety about COVID, financial hardship, stressful life events), gambling participation and gambling frequency.

Results

Gambling participation and at-risk gambling decreased between T1 and T2, increased at T3, with little further change at T4. When gambling availability was curtailed, decreased gambling frequency on EGMs, casino games, sports betting or race betting, and lower psychosocial stress, were associated with transitions from at-risk to non-problem gambling. When gambling availability resumed, increased EGM gambling frequency, decreased online gambling frequency, and higher psychosocial stress were associated with transitions from non-problem to at-risk gambling.

Discussion and conclusions

Gambling availability appears a stronger influence on gambling problems, at the population level, than psychosocial risk factors. Reducing the supply of high-risk gambling products, particularly EGMs, is likely to reduce gambling harm.

Open access