Psychology Colloquium: Dr Robert Heirene (School of Psychology – University of Sydney)
Gambling Treatment & Research Clinic, Brain & Mind Centre & School of Psychology, University of Sydney
Title: How can we minimise the harms associated with online gambling? Insights from the account data of 40,000 gamblers and a randomised control trial of message prompts
Abstract: Gambling online presents several unique risks to consumers including constant availability, high speed and uninterrupted play, and the ability to gamble in private. Despite these risks, online gamblers also have access to a number of novel features that can facilitate self-directed harm-minimisation efforts unavailable to customers of land-based gambling venues—they can track their expenditure through betting statements, set limits on deposits or losses, and and temporarily deactivate their accounts for 24 hours or more. However, little is known about the number of people who actually use these tools and their efficacy as harm reduction strategies. We aimed to address these gaps in understanding in two studies. In the first, and we collected account data for almost 40,000 customers from six online gambling sites in Australia to understand the number and characteristics of people using these responsible gambling tools. In the second, we carried out a large, naturalistic randomised controlled trial of message prompts encouraging the uptake of a limit setting tool and evaluated the effects of these limits on indicators of risky gambling. Findings from both studies increase the understanding of how we can encourage positive behaviour change and reduce harm in the online gambling context.