Examining the effect of proximity and concentration of B2 machines to gambling play

Abstract

Aims and objectives:
This study aims to examine the relationship between spatial concentrations of B2 machines (commonly known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals) in Licensed Betting Offices (LBOs) and gambling behaviour. It is an extension of previous research using survey data of loyalty card holders for LBOs and industry machine play data. LBOs with B2 machines cluster spatially in Great Britain and we have identified areas with greater spatial concentrations of LBOs with B2 machines. Having identified areas with greater concentrations of LBOs with B2 machines, we examined the relationship between living near differing numbers of LBOs or a concentration of LBOs and gambling behaviour and machine play.

Analysis and methods:
Using measures of problem gambling collected through a survey of people who held an LBO loyalty card, we examined if problem gambling rates differed according to whether or not someone lived in an area with a higher number or concentration of LBOs with B2 machines. We also looked at whether the number of machine gambling sessions and the number of days a person gambled on a machine varied by the number or spatial concentrations of LBOs with B2 machines. We used two methods to analyse spatial patterns of LBOs. The first was a simple count of the number of LBOs within 400m of a loyalty card older’s home. Our second method identified areas with LBO concentrations: 3 or more LBOs within 200m or 400m of one another. Analysis is based on people who held a loyalty card for one of three bookmakers in 2014. Loyalty cardholders are highly - engaged players, therefore results cannot be generalised to all machine gamblers, but rather reflect patterns among highly engaged loyalty card customers.

Results:
There were no statistically significant differences in problem gambling prevalence, PGSI scores, the number of machine sessions or the number of days on which machines were played according to the number of LBOs someone had in their local area. However, a trend could be detected when combining rates of low risk, moderate risk and problem gambling (a PGSI score of 1 or more), which showed higher gambling prevalence rates in the combined risk groups compared to non-problem gamblers, when there are more LBOs in the local area. Problem gambling and moderate risk prevalence rates were higher among those who lived in LBO concentration areas. Machine players living in high concentration LBO areas tended to play slightly fewer machine sessions and play machines on a fewer number of days than those who did not live in high concentration areas, although the difference was small. Our results suggest that the spatial configuration of LBOs with B2 machines is important. Higher -density concentrations are associated with stronger patterns in gambling differences, than simple counts near to players’ homes. Examining the effect of proximity and concentration of B2 machines to gambling play 4.This research provides the first evidence that problem gambling rates among machine players vary according to whether someone lives in proximity to a concentration of LBOs. However, these patterns and statistics can indicate correlation, but they cannot determine causation. Further research may look at the drivers behind these results in more detail.

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