UK Gambling Commission Publishes New Research, “Path to Play”

The UK gambling commission recently released the result of its newest research regarding the betting habits of gamblers. The Path to Play examines the key milestones and stages which gamblers go through and shows how gambling experiences can differ for different people or in varying contexts. 

The survey included 937 people who had gambled within the last 12 months. It also included additional in-depth interviews and digital diaries from smaller but more focused target groups. The Path to Play journey was divided into six distinct stages: passive influences, external triggers, internal impulses, active search, play experience and play outcome. Each stage was then individually examined for the key influences which encourage gambling.

Certain Influences Are More Impactful for Particular Types of Gambling

Special offers, unusually favorable odds, and direct communications with players have a more profound impact on betting and online gambling, as does past experience – either playing, winning or simply having an account already set up. Land-based activities and games succeed more by catching the eye of potential players, both as an external trigger and in the active search phase. This is often accompanied by internal impulses such as a spontaneous decision or feeling lucky, and the activity feeling fun and like a good idea (both at active search).

The survey uncovered that gaming and betting are motivated by opposing internal impulses. Bets tend to be driven by a desire to add excitement to another event, such as a sports game, while games (particularly online games) are more often motivated by their desire to simply pass some time.

Problem Gamers Are More Susceptible to Influences across All Stages of Their Path to Play

Higher risk gamblers received extended focus, as the research found them more heavily influenced throughout the journey, both in terms of the number of influencing factors and the extent of the impact they have. Due to the higher frequency with which higher-risk gamblers engage in gambling, they are more exposed to passive influences and find them influential on their behavior. They experience a greater number of triggers and are more likely to be motivated by the desire to win large amounts of money or to pass the time. This risk group is more likely to put limits in place but often fails at keeping them.

Problem gamers come into contact with far more influences – information and special offers from operators and communicating with others. They are also less likely to notice safer gambling information, and their sessions more often end because they’ve over-spent. The resulting feelings of regret more frequently prompt higher-risk gamblers to take action following their play session (take a break, set limits, seek help for problem gambling).

According to the research, ads from operators are widely noticed. However, they do not constitute a notable factor in initiating gambling behavior unless participants are already in the middle of a session. Safer gambling messages are seen frequently, but few of the participants reported paying them any attention, and they had minimal impact on reducing gambling.

The UK Gambling Commission noted that it will continue to explore the generated data and will continue to share its further findings and insights over the coming months.

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