Know when to walk away: a look at gamblers’ self-regulation of play


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Dr Anna Thomas
Research Fellow, Swinburne University

Presentation given on 23 May 2011 at "The New Game: Emerging technology and responsible gambling" forum hosted by the Victorian Government's Office of Gaming and Racing as part of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week 2011.

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Know when to walk away: a look at gamblers’ self-regulation of play

  1. 1. Dr Anna Thomas Swinburne University
  2. 2. “ Know when to walk away …” A multi-methodological examination of self-regulation strategies Dr Anna Thomas Swinburne University of Technology, Australia Responsible Gambling Awareness Week Melbourne, May, 2011
  3. 3. Acknowledgements <ul><li>Thanks are due to the Department of Justice (Victoria) Office of Gaming and Racing who funded this research </li></ul><ul><li>The full research team: </li></ul><ul><li>Dr Anna Thomas </li></ul><ul><li>Professor Susan Moore </li></ul><ul><li>Professor Michael Kyrios </li></ul><ul><li>Professor Glen Bates </li></ul><ul><li>Professor Denise Meredyth </li></ul>
  4. 4. Self-Regulation of Gambling <ul><li>The majority of gamblers learn to successfully self manage their play </li></ul><ul><li>Even among problem gamblers, formal treatment seeking is rare </li></ul><ul><li>Minimal attention paid to the processes by which gamblers manage gambling </li></ul>
  5. 5. Studies of Self-Regulation in Problem Gamblers <ul><li>Studies of recovered or problem gamblers </li></ul><ul><li>Hodgins et al., (1999) - 6 Recovered PGs </li></ul><ul><li>Hodgins & El-Guebaly (2000) - 43 recovered PGs </li></ul><ul><li>McMillen et al., (2004) - 9 PGs </li></ul><ul><li>Some sought treatment or support </li></ul><ul><li>Popular self-directed strategies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Limit access to venues/time spent at venues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limit money spent gambling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Replace with other activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive strategies </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Self-Regulation in Regular/community gamblers <ul><li>Studies with more general samples </li></ul><ul><li>Nelson et al., (2008) – secondary analysis of internet sports betting site </li></ul><ul><li>Dzirk, (2006) – observational study of experienced gamblers </li></ul><ul><li>Turner et al., (2005) – study of responsible gambling in adults </li></ul><ul><li>Self-regulation strategies used </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gamble less frequently </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>limit number & size of bets </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>stop for periods of time/set time limits </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hide chips from sight </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quit gambling when you are bored </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not borrow money </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Self-Regulation comparative research <ul><li>One comparative piece of research </li></ul><ul><li>Compared problem and non-problem gamblers on monetary self-regulation (Nower & Blaszcynski, 2010) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PG less likely to use money-limiting strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PG had little awareness of losses during a session </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Study One: Exploratory study of self-regulation <ul><li>38 adults (19 women, 19 men) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>problem gamblers, ex-problem gamblers, social gamblers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Focus groups and individual interviews </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do people manage to control their gambling? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are there different types of self-regulation strategies? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do self-regulation strategies differ among demographic groups? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Measured severity of gambling problems </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative data analysis techniques </li></ul>
  9. 9. Results: major themes <ul><li>Analysis revealed four domains of self-regulation used by gamblers </li></ul><ul><li>Maintaining Awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Setting Limits </li></ul><ul><li>Avoidance </li></ul><ul><li>Help Seeking </li></ul>
  10. 10. Maintaining awareness <ul><li>Maintaining conscious awareness about what gambling is/should be </li></ul><ul><li>Keeping it Social </li></ul><ul><li>“… if I was by myself then I’d have no particular desire to stay … the gambling is just a side part” (moderate risk gambler) </li></ul><ul><li>Expectation of losing </li></ul><ul><li>… if we win money back then that’s a plus, but if we don’t, nothing’s happened, that’s just normal (moderate risk gambler) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Maintaining awareness Awareness of risks “ I don’t tend to go near those (roulette tables) or the slots or anything like that” (moderate risk gambler) Keeping spending tangible Realising your spending could be “paying a month of the mortgage” (low risk gambler)
  12. 12. Setting limits <ul><li>Limiting outlay (money) </li></ul><ul><li>“ I would say OK this is how much I’m going to spend in that day and once it’s gone it’s gone” (low risk gambler) </li></ul><ul><li>Limiting visits and length of sessions (time) </li></ul><ul><li>“ I have to have a limit if I want to have some recreational things” (low risk gambler) </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Separating winnings from stakes </li></ul><ul><li>“ If I can sit down, play $20 and double it, it’s time to walk out as well, you know. Pay for dinner … I’m in front” (low risk gambler) </li></ul><ul><li>Problem gamblers had trouble sticking to limits </li></ul><ul><li>“ You go to a venue and you think I’ll just put this amount of money in, and it shows you the free spins and you get nothing on them. And you try to stop yourself … but there’s another side saying but what if …” (problem gambler) </li></ul>Setting limits
  14. 14. Avoidance <ul><li>Avoiding gambling venues and replacing gambling with other activities </li></ul><ul><li>“ replacing your own gambling behaviour with something else, healthier” (problem gambler) </li></ul><ul><li>This could be particularly difficult if a venue was a major social hub within the community or for your social group </li></ul>
  15. 15. Help seeking <ul><li>Some people found they needed to seek assistance from others </li></ul><ul><li>Informal (seeking support, assistance from friends & family) </li></ul><ul><li>Formal (self exclusion) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh well someone handling my money so I didn’t handle it. ‘Cause while I haven’t got money I’m OK” (problem gambler) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Study 2: Operationalising the strategies <ul><li>Created items to measure self-regulation </li></ul><ul><li>303 participants surveyed (60.7% females; mean age 26.4 yrs) </li></ul><ul><li>Measured gambling frequency and gambling problems </li></ul><ul><li>Used Exploratory Factor Analysis </li></ul>
  17. 17. Four Self-Regulation Factors/Domains <ul><li>Social Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Setting Limits </li></ul><ul><li>Avoidance </li></ul><ul><li>Help-seeking </li></ul>
  18. 18. Correlations between Self-Regulation Strategies and Gambling Behaviour
  19. 19. Erroneous Cognitions and Self-Regulation <ul><li>Erroneous gambling cognitions can interfere with self-regulation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inflated beliefs about control over outcome </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unrealistic expectations that gambling will result in a win </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lead to a belief that self-regulation is unnecessary (winning is a sure thing) </li></ul>
  20. 20. Sports betting and erroneous cognitions <ul><li>An element of skill + chance </li></ul><ul><li>+ Personal Investment </li></ul><ul><li> inflated belief in ability to predict win </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I watch the games and I know who plays - which player is good, which player is no good, which player plays where ... I love soccer and cricket … the amounts I have lost it’s because of one team. Because of one team and I lose a big amount because they’re favourite and 1 and 6 … It frustrates me and makes me angry even more but 1 and 6, how can they lose? How can..? It’s gamble, I don’t know.” (Young male migrant from Pakistan). </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Live Action Sports betting and self-regulation <ul><li>Event-based game becomes continuous </li></ul><ul><li>Betting beyond pre-determined limits </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary data analysis of online sports betting site (Nelson, LaPlant, Peller, Schumann, LaBrie, & Shalffer, 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Self limiters were more active gamblers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bet more frequently </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More likely to place live-action bets </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Self limiting resulted in behavioural change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less active betting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>leading to reduced overall spend </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Summary & Conclusions <ul><li>All gamblers likely to use awareness-based strategies and place limits around time/money </li></ul><ul><li>Regular and problematic gamblers impose conscious limits around gambling </li></ul><ul><li>Erroneous cognitions interfere with self-regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Live action sports betting is a continuous form susceptible to erroneous cognitions </li></ul>