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Assessment of online games design changes

Gambling Commission report focusing on research conducted into the impact of the online gambling games design changes.

Theory of Change

A Theory of Change (ToC) is a description of how and why a particular action is expected to result in a desired change. One of the strengths of the process is that it allows the identification of metrics (represented as outcomes and assumptions), which should be monitored to provide an indication of whether the intended aims are being met.

The Gambling Commission conducted a ToC exercise prior to the introduction of the changes in October 2021.

The key initial outcomes for the changes to online slots products were identified as:

  • reduced play intensity
  • consumers being better informed and having improved understanding about their session
  • reduced 'binge gambling'
  • increased gambling within the intentions and means of consumers.

The long-term outcome and goal is a reduction in gambling-related harms as a result of slots products.

Assumptions that were identified as having the potential to impact the delivery of these outcomes included consumer session-length and staking behaviour. It also included assumptions around consumer behaviour for:

  • potential loss-chasing
  • potential displacement to other products or providers
  • whether consumers gamble on multiple accounts simultaneously.

Other assumptions related to the visibility of presented information, any inconveniences introduced by the changes and whether gambling businesses attempted to bypass the changes.

Other outcomes were longer-term goals that are likely to be harder to attribute to this package of measures. These include:

  • a reduction of complaints about the remote gambling industry
  • increased trust in gambling businesses
  • an increase in proactive safer gambling measures to make gambling fairer and more open.
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Background and approach
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