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Statistics and research release

How do machine gamblers feel about tracked play?

A review of machine stakes and prizes and related advice on the costs and benefits of introducing tracked play on category B1, B2 and B3 machines.


As part of its review of machine stakes and prizes, the Government asked us to advise on the costs and benefits of introducing tracked play on category B1, B2 and B3 machines.

Key facts

Headline findings

We have published the report and dataset in full, but the headline findings were:

  • when asked to select words associated with tracked play, machine gamblers felt tracked play was “useful” and “trustworthy”. They also felt it was “intrusive” but they were slower to select this description showing they were less certain of this
  • machine gamblers were asked about what machine characteristics were appealing to them when choosing a gambling machine. Tracked play was fairly mid-ranking, suggesting it would neither act as an attraction nor be too off-putting in the context of other machine characteristics
  • machine gamblers are concerned about the registration process and whether it will be a hassle, and have concerns about how their personal data will be stored and used by operators
  • machine players across different sectors did not have significantly differing views on tracked play.


Tracked play is a way of linking information about players’ gambling across multiple visits to a gambling premises. This means that a player would be able to see how often they played, how much they spent, what games they played on. And gambling companies would also be able to identify players who may be struggling with their gambling and offer them support. To help us explore the potential impact of introducing tracked play we commissioned some research with consumers, which was conducted by Populus.

The researchers carried out focus groups and in-depth discussions with individuals, alongside an online survey of 1000 machine gamblers to better understand what players think about tracked play as a concept, and how they might respond if it was introduced. We have used this to inform our advice to Government.

We know that the sample used in this research is not reflective of all machine players. We intentionally targeted machine gamblers who had played in the previous four weeks, and as a result the sample contains particularly engaged machine gamblers. This means we can’t assume the findings would be true of all machine players. However, it has given us useful insights into what different groups of players think about tracked play and things we would need to consider if it was introduced.

As part of the research we did directly ask players how they thought their play would change if tracked play was introduced. We know that there are significant limitations to this type of technique – how players say they would react is not always the same as how they actually will react, which is why the researchers also used methods to explore player’s implicit reactions. However, we can use these questions to give us an indication of how players might respond and start to think about what impact this might have.

2021 update

In March 2021 we repeated a small number of core questions from this research in our online tracker survey.

Responses were generally similar, with respondents appreciating the value for those who experience problems with their gambling, but indicating the need for it to be mandatory across all operators. A number of respondents were concerned about personal data and how it would be stored and used.

Data and downloads


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