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Blog: How people perceive their own and others gambling

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

All participants in the research acknowledged that gambling offers a duality of reward and risk. Every individual has their own unique sense of where the appropriate balance lies.

A consistent set of themes emerged when participants chose images to represent gambling, which encompassed potential reward, emotion, temptation and risk.

We heard broadly very permissive attitudes towards gambling overall. For most people, gambling is considered to be ‘just for fun’, yet caution and risk is never too far from consideration.

"I only spend money I can afford and treat as a bit of fun. As long as you treat it as a pastime rather than something that overtakes your life and take you beyond your financial limits." 62, Male, Wales, occasional player

Most people look upon their own gambling behaviour as ‘normal’: gambling is viewed as something they do for fun, and while it may be seen as a personal ‘vice’, they feel they are always in control - they can ‘take it or leave it’. It is other people who are perceived as being problem gamblers, or at risk of developing issues due to their vulnerability or addictive personalities.

Many people first encounter gambling through family or friends, creating social norms that inform their gambling preferences and overall attitude towards gambling. First experiences through family are often described in emotional and nostalgic terms, while gambling with friends frames the activity in a social space and creates an expectation that gambling is best experienced with others.

"My dad would give me a little note and some money to go down to the bookies for him and place his bets...I would be so small reaching over the counter" 24, Male, Wales, frequent player 

"When I was at uni my mates would bet on the football so I downloaded the app and placed some bets because we would all talk about it a the pub" 24, Male, Midland, occasional player

The research also investigated what drives gambling moments.  Having fun and winning money were unsurprisingly, the primary motives cited for gambling, but to understand behaviours more fully we looked into moment based motivations, uncovering eight core gambling driver typologies. An overview of these can be found in 2CV’s report and more detail on these will be shared in a future blog.

Read more on this blog:

Reflection 2:  Gambling attitudes shift slowly but behaviour varies highly over time

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