Factors that influence gambler adherence to pre-commitment decisions

Abstract

{PURPOSE} Analyses the factors which influence gambler precommitment behaviour when playing electronic gaming machines {(EGM).} Reviews aspects of gaming machine design; activities and features offered by and at venues; and other factors (e.g. social support networks, financial literacy, comorbid conditions etc.) {METHODOLOGY} Explores the topic through both attitudinal research and from a behavioural perspective, through attitudinal and live {EGM} play observational components. {SUBJECTS} 200 {EGM} players across three states of Australia were interviewed and 'shadowed' to observe live play behaviour. {RESULTS} Only a relatively small set of variables directly influence player adherence to precommitments. Players were more likely to exceed their limit if they experienced an increased number of free spins; being highly absorbed and involved in {EGM} play; experienced stronger 'urges to continue' during {EGM} play; experienced high excitement after receiving features during {EGM} play. Findings also showed that problem gamblers who exceeded expenditure limits tended to play at a faster rate of play. A number of factors indirectly influenced 'urges to continue.' Setting limits close to the time of play was associated with exceeding them. Also, limits set by problem gamblers just before play were considerably higher than those set after play. 7% to 16% of {EGM} players exceeded their spending limits. {CONCLUSIONS} Problem gamblers have considerably variable limits, and may not have a firm mental schema about how much they should pre-commit for gambling. Education about how to select affordable and realistic precommitments may be important. Precommitment may be of value to many {EGM} players, but of increased value to higher-risk players. This value will in part be influenced by the ability and motivation of players to set affordable and realistic precommitments. It was of interest that direct predictors of exceeding precommitments clustered around characteristics of {EGM} game design.

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