Interventions do not change the amount of money customers spend on gambling or their playtime, a study commissioned by GambleAware concluded.
The wholly independent charity working in collaboration with the UK Gambling Commission to deliver the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms released 3 new reports today related to using safer gambling messaging by operators.
Among the reports commissioned by the charity was the impact evaluation report produced by the Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) which summarized evaluations from the study run by Revealing Reality in 2019 and 2020, under the Safer Gambling Messaging Project initiated by the Gambling Commission in 2017.
The aim of the report was to develop safer gambling messaging – various types of communication programs, including e-mails, banner advertisements, and social media campaigns – by testing different approaches in cooperation with industry operators. Some of the participating operators also introduced alterations to their sign-up process to direct customers to safer gambling means.
Out of the 7 operators which participated in the program, only 5 reached the evaluation stage for the developed interventions, 888, Betfred, Buzz Bingo, Gamesys, and Genting Casinos, but the process of implementation and evaluation was disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak and had to be tweaked and in one case abandoned.
888 implemented 2 controlled interventions on their casino platform, the first one being a new sign-up process on a randomly selected group of 39,091 new high-risk customers, and the second focused on 12,453 individuals who had already deposited with the operator, from all risk groups. Groups did not overlap and the trial ran from June 3, 2020, to July 15, 2020.
2,363 of the participants from the first group were randomly selected to receive the altered sign-up with a deposit limit tool integrated as part of the sign-up process, while 2,617 of the second group received a pop-up to remind them to set a deposit limit.
The effect of both interventions, the altered sign-up process, and reminder pop-up, was measured in terms of the proportion of customers who set up deposit limits within 7 days of receiving the intervention, the amount of money deposited regardless of setting a limit or not, and the number of customers who then triggered safer gambling alerts by violating deposit or playtime limits, high-frequency erratic betting, loss chasing patterns, or making multiple deposits in a short period of time.
Betfred implemented a randomized controlled trial on a randomly selected sample of 43,346 of their online customers, testing an e-mail, an SMS, and a rich inbox intervention – a message delivered to the customer’s Betfred account mailbox, which allowed for more dynamic content.
The trial was conducted between May 28, 2020, and July 23, 2020, and its effect was measured in one and two weeks after the intervention against the amount of money deposited, total time play, time play between the hours from midnight till 6 am, and the proportion of customers falling as low and medium risk according to the operator’s internal classification.
Buzz Bingo implemented a number of changes with regards to customer experience, including pop-up messages for users who log 3 or more times in a week, another set of pop-up messages for people depositing 3 or more times in a week, making safer gambling tools more accessible by changing the layout on its website, permanently visible on the website and in bingo rooms safer gambling banners, weekly e-mails to customers and amendments to the know-your-customer (KYC) phone call process.
Changes were implemented in early April, which also puts another factor, lockdowns, into the equation, besides the inability to assess whether changes in outcomes were due to the amended processes as they were not randomized but implemented wholesale.
Gamesys came up with a messaging campaign on social media and via e-mail, which prompted users to take a break from gambling by going out, but as it was considered to be at odds with the stay-at-home advice, the “share the joy” campaign was cut short.
Despite, the non-randomized campaign which targeted all Jackpotjoy customers only measured customer engagement and e-mail open and click-through rate.
Genting Casinos had to abandon the intervention developed for their physical casinos due to closures, but delivered a number of e-mails to online customers, seeking to establish whether customers could afford to lose the money they deposited, as well as some messages related to the possible impact from coronavirus restrictions.
Results were measured over a period of 4 weeks, one before the e-mails and one after, based on the difference in the number of sessions, number of days logged, and total playtime.
The introduction of deposit limits at 888 resulted in a significant increase, from 1% to 9.3%, of the first trial group customers who set a deposit limit, consistent with findings from other studies conducted by BIT, while the second group showed no effect.
Gamesys and Buzz Bingo also observed similar effects, with the number of users setting session reminders the week after the e-mail jumping to 781 from below 10 per week otherwise at the former, and the number of players in the month following reality check feature campaign spiking to 280 from single digits otherwise, at the latter.
The study found out setting deposit limits did not have a detectable effect on the amount of money customers deposit or their total playtime, meaning more evidence on safer gambling tool impact on money deposited and gambling harm would be needed.
Gamesys interventions which measured engagement quantitatively showed the pre-pandemic set of 1 Instagram and 3 Facebook posts messaging increased engagement more than any of their other social media content in March 2020.
In July 2020, Gamesys checked the visibility of its safer gambling messaging during the lockdown and received an affirmative response from 87% of customers.