GambleAware study finds safer gambling tools backfire

The GambleAware study calls for innovation in the design of safer gambling tools.
The GambleAware study calls for innovation in the design of safer gambling tools.

The GambleAware study found that safer gambling tools actually cause fewer players to set deposit limits.

UK.- A study commissioned by the responsible gambling charity GambleAware has suggested that existing safer gambling tools backfire and lead to fewer customers setting deposit limits.

Conducted by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), the study found that the safer gambling tools tested had no statistically significant impact on the amounts that players deposited, but that they led fewer customers to set deposit limits.

It’s called on regulators to demand advances in the design of safer gambling tools. 

BIT tested two types of commitment devices, which are designed to encourage players to commit to set goals by granting rewards. 

One tool applied a self-persuasion method with an on-site popup that asked players to consider and share advice directed at another gambler who was setting a deposit limit. The other tool used a personal commitment method, asking participants to share their own reasons for setting a limit.

The messages that players provided were fed back to them via the site itself and through timed SMS messages as a reminder of their rationale for setting a deposit limit. There was also a control group.

In each case, BIT measured the proportion of customers who chose to set a limit and also deposit amounts after limits were set. The results offered no strong evidence that either method had a significant impact on deposit amounts.

The control group wagered an average of £936.99 in 30 days, while the self-persuasion group wagered £925.46 and the personal commitment group £944.79.

However, significantly fewer customers using one of the commitment devices chose to set deposit limits. In the control group, 4.4 per cent set deposit limits. That fell to only 3.6 per cent in the self-persuasion group and 2.9 per cent in the personal commitment group.

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The BIT said the interventions appeared to cause a “backfire” effect, lowering the number of customers that used deposit limits. It said this may have been because the interventions added friction to the actual process of setting a limit.

It said the results of the study suggest that innovation in the design of safer gambling tools is not keeping up with product development. It’s suggested that regulators should demand demonstrable development in the design of such tools.

It also suggested that it may be useful to redefine deposit limits so they don’t sound so restrictive, for example by calling them a “safety net” rather than a limit.

Rosanna Barry, BIT’s principal advisor for the consumer markets and business team, said: “This report is the latest instalment in a huge amount of detailed safer gambling research by the team at BIT.

“Deposit limit tools have the potential to deliver benefits to those who gamble and to society as a whole, without constraining customer choice, but innovation and development has been lacking. Our work has shown just some of the ways that behavioural research could be used to refine these tools and their function.”

Last month, GambleAware reported that its Bet Regret responsible gambling campaign has led to more players reducing their betting. The two-year “tap out” campaign targeted men aged 16-44.

GambleAware reported that 53 per cent of those with higher risk profiles demonstrated some intention to reduce betting, while 17 per cent actively “tapped out” of betting apps before placing a wager.

Meanwhile, the UK Charities Commission has closed its compliance case into the responsible gambling charity the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM). The regulator had received a complaint about the charity’s links to the industry body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

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