A study commissioned by GambleAware found interventions can encourage the uptake of safer gambling tools but may not reduce problem gambling.
UK.- A study commissioned by the responsible gambling charity GambleAware has found that interventions through social media and altered signup processes can encourage igaming players to take up safer gambling tools.
However, the study found no effect on outcomes such as deposit amounts and on the length of play.
The study was conducted by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) with 888, Gamesys, Betfred, Buzz Bingo and Genting.
It studied interventions based on the Gambling Commission’s 2017 Safer Gambling Messaging Project.
Email and SMS interventions not enough
Each operator conducted interventions in a different way. 888 used two interventions to encourage deposit limits. An option to set a deposit limit at signup proved successful, with 10.3 per cent choosing to set a limit compared to 1 per cent of the control group.
The second form of intervention, which used a pop-up message, made no significant difference in takeup.
Gamesys implemented a social media and email campaign that encouraged players to take breaks after winning. This led to a huge increase in the number of players who enabled session length reminders, up from 10 players a week to 781.
Betfred sent messages to customers via email, text message and its on-site inbox, none of which had a notable effect on length of play or deposit amounts.
The only interventions that led to statistically significant changes in the length of play were emails sent by Genting, particularly two affordability check emails for new customers. These led to average reductions in the length of play of 48 and 132 minutes.
BIT found that improved interventions increased the uptake of safer gambling tools, but may not reduce gambling harm.
It said: “The ultimate aim of this programme is to develop interventions which will reduce gambling harm to customers.
“We cannot say definitively whether that has occurred, but we can say that at least some of the interventions have caused significant differences in the uptake of safer gambling tools.
“Further research should focus on establishing the causal link between increased uptake of safer gambling tools and reduction in gambling harms, as measured in a natural gambling context as opposed to a laboratory trial.”
BIT noted that it had found no negative outcomes for igaming operators.
It said: “There is inevitably some tension between increasing uptake of safer gambling tools and bottom-line outcomes for operators (such as the total amount deposited or total play time).
“We found no evidence that developing effective safer gambling interventions had any negative impact on these at all.
“Further, safer gambling messaging proved to be an effective way to engage with customers and could have potential as a general engagement and advertising technique.
“This finding is encouraging because it suggests there is the opportunity to normalise the use of safer gambling tools while still engaging effectively with customers on social media.”
It noted that sending messages through SMS or email alone appeared to be ineffective and recommended operators use alternative methods such as social media campaigns and a sign-up processes to reduce friction and increase awareness of safer gambling tools.
“Safer gambling messages alone are likely to be insufficient“
The research agency Revealing Reality also published a report on the operators’ interventions. It said it was important that safer gambling messaging was not contradicted by sales techniques.
It said: “Layering safer gambling messages with others which directly contradict them is confusing to players.
“Being totally consistent about safer gambling might mean removing other messages and cues the customer is exposed to, not just adding new things into the environment.
“Almost every available surface and display in any gambling environment, off or online, has been optimised for encouraging people to gamble. Against this sheer volume of sales techniques, and even with the best-intentions, safer gambling messages alone are likely to be insufficient.”
Gambling Commission executive director Tim Miller said operators should look at both reports to understand what methods help to encourage safer gambling.
He said: “We would encourage gambling operators to look at this research and consider how it can help shape their approaches around safer gambling messaging.”