Do Harm-Minimisation Tools for electronic gambling work? And for who?

Monday, 10 April 2017

This open source article critically examines the role that features such as pop-ups, limit setting and breaks in play might have in reducing harm from gambling. Electronic delivery of gambling is now widespread, meaning these features are now more easily delivered than in the past.

Whether they are useful in reducing consumption (amount) of gambling by players is a key question. The evolving theory of total consumption suggests it is the case that increasing frequency/intensity of gambling shifts gamblers towards higher scores of risk. The authors look at whether these tools can make time spent gambling safer, without reducing the number of gamblers.

The authors’ assessments include:

  • Dynamic pop-up messaging may be preventative for general gamblers but is not a particularly useful intervention for problem gambling. Moreover, more work is needed on the content of the messaging to improve effectiveness
  • The effectiveness of expenditure limit setting for intense gamblers is low if reaching the limit does not enforce a break of some substance. Time limit setting can backfire, with gamblers betting higher stakes to compensate for the time limit
  • Systems that provide the gambler with tracking of their bets potentially offer long term benefits but the form of the tracking is important.

Overall the authors conclude that these types of tools are of most assistance to those gambling with least risk. For these groups they can be an effective prevention tool against the development of riskier behaviour, that is more intense gambling. However for those in the risk, especially higher risk, categories the evidence that they have much to offer in terms of harm reduction is poor.

Download the article

A Critical Review of the Harm-Minimisation Tools Available for Electronic Gambling

How to cite this article

Andrew Harris & Mark D. Griffiths, 2017, A Critical Review of the Harm-Minimisation Tools Available for Electronic Gambling, Journal of Gambling Studies, March Vol.33 Issue 1 pp.187-221

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