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Blog: Responsibility for safer gambling

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

Responsibility for safer gambling was deemed to sit across three parties. Research participants felt it is crucial that consumers take responsibility for their own gambling behaviour, however they also need the help of gambling companies and Government to make sure that the right tools and policies are in place to enable this safe behaviour. 

Responsibility perceived to sit across all three parties: 

Personal: set limits on behaviour/spend/time, be aware of how much you can afford to lose and ensure you can always walk away at any point

Gambling companies: refocus on casual gambling rather than frequent repetitive play, create opportunities to break rather than reinforce hot states, intervene in repetitive/high spend play 

Government: control places and spaces that gambling exists, keep it away from children and create gambling free zones to encourage prolonged cold states.

Research participants were sceptical about whether gambling companies are taking enough responsibility for promoting and ensuring responsible play. The diagram below shows how people perceive that the industry is set up to either prolong a person’s hot state or to create opportunities for them to return to the hot state. 

diagram of a cycle explaining how everything is perceived to be designed to either prolong or create an easy return to the hot state including marketing, time taken for winnings to clear, apps focussing on gamblers who have won and bonuses for depositing cash

In addition, gamblers can also be tempted into hot states by well-placed messages, triggering out-of-the-ordinary hot state play and creating the potential for ‘binge’ behaviour. 

For example: 

Promotions

  • creating new hot states through free games/bets, bet matching but often identified as a scam because of limits on cash out
  • "£2 on every race at Cheltenham Races with William Hill, I think I came out £150 up."
  • "They are a scam - you have to bet 30 times or get it up to £1000s to withdraw it and even then you have to wait."

Emails/ text messages 

  • messages can create a quick link to online play but become intrusive and can encourage excessive play 
  • "I can get an email a day from the bingo which is too much but sometimes you get a good deal" 
  • "When I got the lottery app I started playing way more because I kept getting tempted by the rollovers." 

Social media tipsters

  • the seeming independence of advice can create the illusion of a sure bet
  • "There's all sorts of people on the groups and there are some people who seem to know a lot so you follow what they say and put a bet on their favourites" 

Posters/print/out of home advertising

  • trigger words that feel 'lucky' or play on win belief biases can create hot states
  • "you see the word rollover and I buy a ticket, I don't even know what the jackpot is half the time"

Bet in play, cash out 

  • maintain the hot state beyond the original bet 
  • "it keeps you gambling throughout the game, you are on the app constantly checking how you are doing." 
  • "always reminded while you are watching and putting another cheeky bet on if the odds look good, if your other stuff isn't looking good it might be the one that does" 

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