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reportposted on 01.08.2018, 00:00 by Nerilee Hing, SM Gainsbury, A Blaszczynski, R Wood, D Lubman, Alexander Russell
This research study was commissioned by Gambling Research Australia to investigate how Australians are using interactive gambling services and the impact of interactive gambling on land‐based gambling and gambling‐related problems. A multi‐modal research study was conducted over three years including a nationally representative telephone survey (N=15,006), an online survey of gamblers (N=4,594), interviews with interactive gamblers (N=50) and with interactive gamblers seeking treatment (N=31), and collection of data from gambling help services. Previous Australian and international research has been largely limited by the use of small, non‐representative samples and measurement issues such as considering interactive gambling as a distinct form of gambling, rather than a mode of access, and failing to control for potentially confounding variables, such as overall gambling involvement. The current study defined an interactive gambler as someone who had gambled on at least one interactive form in the past year, not excluding other gambling modes. Taken together, the results suggest that interactive gamblers are most likely to be male and younger than land‐based gamblers, suggesting that this mode may continue to grow in popularity among the next generation of gamblers. Interactive gamblers have more positive views of gambling than land‐based gamblers and were engaged in a significantly greater number of gambling activities. In particular, interactive gamblers were more likely to gamble on sports, races and poker, as compared to non‐interactive gamblers, who were most likely to gamble on electronic gaming machines (EGMs). The most popular online activities were interactive sports and race wagering, and interactive gamblers conducted the majority of their betting online. Overall, convenience and ease of access is driving use of interactive gambling, followed by more competitive products and pricing as well as the comfort of gambling from home. Despite these advantages, substantial minorities of interactive gamblers view this mode as too convenient and have concerns about the security and integrity of interactive sites. Gamblers were most likely to choose an interactive operator based on competitive price and promotions, as well as reputation and products offered and while most preferred domestically regulated sites, at least one‐third of interactive gamblers were not concerned about gambling with offshore providers. Over three‐quarters of interactive gamblers reported using interactive modes for at least half of their gambling and approximately onefifth reported gambling either entirely online or mostly offline, indicating that this mode is used in various ways by gamblers depending on their preferences. The national telephone survey indicated that the past year prevalence of adult gambling participation in Australia was 64% and 8% of adults engaged in at least one form of interactive gambling. The prevalence of problem gambling in the adult population was 0.6% (or 1% of gamblers), although 18.6% of gamblers reported experiencing at least some negative consequences of gambling (12% of the adult population). Interactive gamblers appeared to be at greater risk of experiencing some problems; however, the study did not allow causality to be determined and it is likely that the greater overall gambling involvement and intensity of interactive gamblers plays an important role in the experience of harms. Differences were found in the forms of gambling related to problems, with interactive gamblers most likely to report problems related to race wagering, EGMs and sports betting, while non‐interactive gambling problems appeared mostly related to EGMs. Risk factors for greater problem gambling severity among interactive gamblers included being male, younger, and a non‐English speaker at home as well as greater gambling participation and betting on sports, races and poker. The specific features of interactive gambling which appear to have the greatest negative impact included its constant availability and convenience (combined with isolation, boredom and distress), use of electronic funds, online accounts and gambling with credit, which reduced the salience of losses and wins, ability to play in private and hide betting, and advertisements and promotions, including inducements to gamble. As participation in interactive gambling appears to be relatively recent and increasing, it is possible that related problems might increase over time with increased participation in this activity. However, there is currently insufficient evidence to conclude that interactive gambling is causing higher levels of gambling problems. Around half of the moderate risk and problem interactive gamblers in the online survey reported existing problems before gambling online, and one‐third indicated their problems were related to land‐based forms. Interactive gambling problems accounted for a small proportion of gamblers presenting to help services, indicating that land‐based problems and EGM use in particular remains the dominant form of gambling associated with problems in Australia. However, interactive gamblers were also less likely to report seeking help for gambling problems. These results suggest that for a substantial proportion of interactive gamblers experiencing difficulties, these problems are related to non‐interactive modes. It is important to be mindful of the limitations of this research, including the omission of mobile phones from the telephone survey, reliance on self‐report and the low numbers of interactive gamblers in the population, making comparison of sub‐groups difficult. The cross‐sectional nature of the research does not allow causal inferences to be drawn and further research is recommended, including evaluation of prevention and treatment programs specifically focused on interactive modes of gambling. Despite these limitations, this study is the most comprehensive examination of interactive gambling in Australia, and one of the most extensive studies internationally and makes a significant contribution to the understanding of interactive gambling. The use of multiple complementary research methods enables greater insight into how interactive gambling is changing engagement in gambling. It can be concluded from this research that interactive gamblers are a heterogeneous population, yet there appear to be significant differences between this group and land‐based gamblers. It is likely that participation in this mode will increase and proactive efforts by all key stakeholders should aim to address issues related to the integration of interactive technologies in gambling.