Do free-to-play sports gambling predictor games influence online sports betting behaviours for men in the UK
Background: Globally, gambling is increasingly being identified as a public health concern, associated with poorer health and well-being. Research has characterised gambling inducements as increasing riskier gambling behaviours and having links to problem gambling. However, no prior research has examined sports gambling predictor games whereby monetary prizes can be won by making free predictions on sporting events. This study aimed to describe associations between playing predictor games and riskier online sports betting behaviours, problem gambling, and between intensity of playing predictor games and problem gambling.
Methods: An online survey using a convenience sample was completed by males aged 18+ years, living in the United Kingdom who had participated in any gambling activity in the last year (n=384). The survey asked questions about sociodemographics, gambling behaviours, and predictor game playing behaviours. The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) tool was used to determine existence and severity of at-risk and problem gambling. Bivariate analyses were undertaken using chi-squared and multivariate analyses using binary logistic regressions, controlling for sociodemographics.
Results: Overall, 45.8% (n=176) of all participants played predictor games. In multivariate analyses, predictor game playing was more likely among younger males compared to older (AOR 2.38, p0.017), those with problem gambling compared to non-problem gambling (AOR 6.92,p<0.001), higher frequency of online sports gambling compared to low (AOR 3.21,p<0.001), higher frequency of in-play betting compared to never placing in-play bets (AOR 3.9,p0.004), medium monthly gambling expenditure compared to low (AOR 2.16,p0.003). Playing predictor games was also associated with a greater mean number of gambling activities (M=5.79, SD=3.30) compared to not playing predictor games (M=3.81, SD=2.45, p<0.001). There was a moderate strength, positive correlation between intensity of playing predictor games and PGSI score (r=0.41).
Conclusions: This study suggests there may be links between playing predictor games and gambling harms, particularly amongst already vulnerable groups (younger males, and those with problem gambling). Policy options which limit access to the most harmful inducements – one of which being predictor games, must be considered to protect against gambling harms.
Copyright (c) 2021 Charley Wilson
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