A study of some 40,000 gamblers in Australia found that a government “opt-out” policy saw a radical shift in online betting behavior. The study, conducted by the Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic (GTRC) at the University of Sydney, also found that when not required to, the overwhelming majority of online gambling customers did not use voluntary tools designed to limit problem betting.
Prior to implementation of the policy, few online gamblers used limits, and when offered the opt-out feature, thousands of gamblers wanted no part of it. The research into leading Australian gambling sites found that of the 6,000 people who used deposit limits, a majority stuck to their limit during the course of a year, while one in four changed their limit to make it less restrictive and one in eight decreased or removed the limit all together.
“The marked success of the ‘opt-out’ limit setting policy has important implications, suggesting this strategy could be used to encourage other responsible gambling behaviors,” said co-author Associate Professor Sally Gainsbury.
Lead author, Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr. Robert Heirene, from the Brain and Mind Centre and School of Psychology, said that during the study, a policy implemented in May 2019 requiring online gambling sites to make customers set a deposit limit, or actively opt out of setting one, had major implications for consumer protection.
Interestingly, those who set deposit limits were found to be similar to those who did not gamble, on most characteristics studied such as age, gender, betting frequency and overall outcome, while those who used time-out/self-exclusions stood out: they were younger, more likely to be male, placed more bets and in bigger amounts, won less, had fewer days without gambling and had more variability in the amount they gambled and the amount they won from day to day.
“This painted a clear picture: time-out/self-exclusion users appear to gamble in a more problematic way, and this insight can focus future research and targeted interventions,” explained Heirene.
For a copy of the study, contact Loren Smith at [email protected]