Australian national survey of gambler precommitment behaviour 2005

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to identify the types of precommitment strategies used by gamblers using a national CATI telephone survey methodology. This included conduct of a 45 minute quantitative telephone survey of N=482 regular gamblers (including 240 EGM players and 242 TAB punters), who each participated in either EGM play or TAB punting at a minimum of at least once per month. As the "back end" to precommitment, setting a budget for gambling was identified in the current study as a critical precursor to setting a limit for gambling. In this context, while a gambler can set and keep to a limit, the selected limit may be set at a level which is neither affordable nor realistic. Accordingly, the budgeting practices of gamblers were examined in the study. The Australian National Survey of Gambler Precommitment Behaviour 2005 highlights many important issues and areas for consideration with respect to the future implementation and design of precommitment mechanisms. While the study is only attitudinal and largely exploratory in nature, it has uncovered some interesting themes relating to how regular gamblers are likely to precommit, the effectiveness of different control strategies, "triggers" which send gamblers over the limit and future likely acceptance of different precommitment options. To this end, while the current research does not answer all questions about precommitment, it marks the start of an important journey to better understanding exactly how gamblers set limits and the challenges they face. Indeed, as highlighted in this summary, many findings have potential future application to harm minimisation in gambling and pinpoint precommitment design options which may be more wellaccepted and beneficial to regular gamblers. While the current study does present its own "limits" (eg. it is only attitudinal, rather than behavioural, samples are small and like all research, the survey is naturally subject to social desirability, non-response bias and sampling error), much knowledge gained from this project has potentially wide and significant application. From this perspective, many findings not only offer insight into precommitment attitudes and behaviours, but also clearly show how precommitment could be best designed and implemented to meet the needs and expectations of regular Australian gamblers. In this context, readers may wish to consider this exploratory study as a starting point for discussing and researching precommitment at a national level.

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