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The Path to Play framework

There are six stages of the path to play journey - they are:

  • passive influences
  • external triggers
  • internal impulses
  • active search
  • play experience
  • play outcome.

The stages of the journey are experienced one after the other, except for ‘external triggers’ and ‘internal impulses’ which are likely to occur at the same time. The following paragraphs explain each of the stages in more detail.

Overview of each stage

Passive Influences – Underlying attitudes and perceptions of gambling

The journey begins with how we think and feel about gambling in general – which evolves gradually over time. Our upbringing, social circle, day to day encounters with gambling, and past experiences all affect our underlying perceptions and attitudes towards gambling. Passive influences have an overarching impact on both our consideration and the experience of play.

External Triggers - Nudges that prompt consideration of play

This stage encompasses the impact of operator communications, prevalence in media and consumer conversations related to gambling – feeding into the top-of-mind consideration of play and shortlisting of brands or products. External triggers don’t necessarily prompt direct action in the moment and are not always obvious or directly linked to play but build our awareness cumulatively and provide incentives to play.

Internal Impulses - Underlying motivation / reason to gamble

Internal impulses provide us with reasons to gamble (informed and nudged by external triggers). Motivations to gamble are comprised of a mix of habitual and social behaviour, perceived knowledge, skill or luck advantage and monetary desire or need – individual gambling occasions can straddle multiple underlying motivations. Internal impulses and external triggers are likely to occur at the same time.

Active Search - Gambling product selection process

Once we have the motivation to play – we go through a process of deciding where and what to play. Whether it be deciding what gambling app or website to use, which gambling venue to visit, what odds to take, which game to play or what stake to place. This stage varies in complexity and speed – some journeys will involve a default app/venue to play and others may involve registering with a new gambling brand. This stage may also involve setting limits to manage our gambling.

Play Experience – The experience of play itself

This stage covers the experience of play itself – whether it be a single bet or a ‘session’ of play (where multiple bets are made or games are played). It encompasses enjoyment of the activity in-the-moment and the overall customer / user experience with the gambling brand / product. During the process of play, adverts and offers from gambling brands can influence extended play sessions or cross-sell to other products.

Play Outcome - The impact of winning or losing

The outcome of play (whether it results in a win or a loss) has both a short-term and cumulative long-term impact on gambling attitudes and behaviour – shaping future consideration of play and the behaviour itself. Some journeys may result in us returning to the beginning of the journey to gamble again at a later point, whilst others may lead to other outcomes such as breaks from gambling (for example via a time-out or self-exclusion), seeking or receiving gambling support or treatment, or seeking redress from gambling brands.

The journey can be visualised as follows:

A diagram showing the Path to Play journey.

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Path to Play methodology
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Key influences at each stage of the journey
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