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Blog: Gambling attitudes shift slowly but behaviour varies over time

Gambling attitudes, as with most attitudes tend to shift slowly but actual behaviour varies highly over time. Gambling behaviour results from shifting from a cold state of consideration into a hot state of play. Location/environment, communications and regulation all have a role to play in contributing to hot and cold gambling states.  

Cold state consideration: Attitudes to gambling depends largely on each individual's past & peer experience

Hot state consideration: Behaviour can fluctuate or stay constant depending on baseline attitudes 

The graph below is an illustrative example of how a person’s attitude (cold state consideration) and behaviour (hot state play) can fluctuate over time. The blue line represents a person’s underlying attitude to gambling which moves relatively slowly, however when attitudes to gambling soften, behaviour changes can be more easily triggered. The pink line indicates the much greater variation that occurs in hot state play over time.

graph with pink line which shows that engagement with gambling varies from high to low during hot state, blue line shows that during cold state gambling behaviour varies less

All research participants held an underlying intention to gamble safely regardless of their play frequency, but the impact of this intention on their behaviour was felt to fluctuate over time. Most people perceived both themselves and the majority of their peers and family members as being predominantly able to manage their gambling behaviour and self-limit play. 

"I feel like gambling can be a problem for some people that have an addictive personality, but for me, it's just a bit of fun and a chance to win some money." 25, Male, London, occasional player  

The survey suggested that the British public don’t see problem gambling in the way that academics do; they don’t see it as being a continuum but instead a binary category which they emphasise that they do not fall into. There is a general consensus between individuals that they, themselves are fine and not a problem gambler, but there are others out there who need support. This is in spite of the fact that many of these individuals reported previous hot states, where they have gambled too much and have lost control during a gambling session. It is likely that they will have experienced some degree of harm due to these episodes, and therefore they may benefit from support more than they realise.  

Read more on this blog:

Reflection 1: Most people perceive their own gambling behaviour as ‘normal’ and perceive vulnerable others as at risk of problems

Reflection 3: Most people aim to gamble safely, but can still be vulnerable to occasional ‘hot state’ episodes of play

Reflection 4: Responsibility for safer gambling is felt to sit across consumers, gambling companies and Government alike

Reflection 5: Safer gambling strategies need to consider the nature of ‘hot state’ play