People who play machines in bookmakers: Secondary analysis of loyalty card survey data


Background: In 2014, a survey of 4001 people who gambled on machines in bookmakers and who held a loyalty card for William Hill, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power was conducted by NatCen Social Research. This survey collected information about gambling behaviour, including problem gambling, and linked survey responses with data held by bookmakers about each person’s gambling behaviour on B2 machines between September 2013 and June 2014.

Losses on B2 machines:
• Overall, around 65-70% of losses on B2 machines among loyalty card holders were attributable to 20% of people.
• There was a somewhat uneven distribution of losses among problem gamblers; 26% of losses were attributable to 23% players who were problem gamblers; 15% higher than what would be expected if losses were evenly distributed.
• Mean and median losses on B2 machines between September 2013 and June 2014 were higher among problem gamblers (£450 on average) than non-problem gamblers (£340 on average).
• These differences were smaller than expected. This is likely because of the skewed nature of the sample. People who have a loyalty card for a bookmaker are very regular gamblers meaning that machine gambling behaviour between non-problem and problem gamblers maybe more similar than different.
• Those who lost the most money on B2 machines were more likely to be older, to have placed a maximum stake bet of £100, to say that gambling on B2 machines was their most frequent form of gambling and to gamble on machines for longer and more often than others.
• There was no evidence that those who lost the most money on B2 machines had greater income levels than those who lost the least.

Maximum stakes:
• Between September 2013 and June 2014, 16% of loyalty card holders had placed a maximum stake bet of £100 on B2 machines. One in fifty (2%) staked £100 in 5% or more of all of their bets on machines.
• Rates of placing a £100 bet on machines were higher among those from minority ethnic groups. Over 30% of people from non-white ethnic groups had placed a maximum stake bet. Those from minority ethnic groups were also more likely to place a £100 bet on machines more frequently.
• Those who were unemployed were more likely to place a maximum stake bet more often; one in twenty (5%) loyalty card holders who were unemployed had placed a £100 bet in 5% or more of their bets on B2 machines.
• Higher problem gambling scores were significantly associated with greater frequency of use of the maximum stake.

Types of games played:
• Overall, 45% of loyalty card holders gambled on a mix of B2 and B3 games, 34% played mainly B2 games and 21% played mainly B3 games.
• Those who played a mix of B2 and B3 games were more engaged with gambling generally and machine gambling specifically. On average, this group lost the most money on machines between September 2013 and June 2014 (£750).
• Those playing mainly B2 games were younger and more likely to be male and were less engaged in other forms of gambling than other groups.
• Those mainly playing B3 games were generally older and had a greater proportion of women than other groups.

Types of problem gambler:
• Four different types of problem gamblers were identified. These were introspective problem gamblers (whose issues focused on feelings of guilt and awareness of problems); control-loss problem gamblers (who mainly chased losses, spent more than they could afford and needed to gamble with larger amounts of money to get the same excitement); diverse aware and severe aware problem gamblers (who experienced a broad spectrum of issues and were generally aware that their gambling was problematic).
• Both severe aware and diverse aware problem gamblers were more likely to say that machines were their most frequent form of gambling activity and that they felt that they had problems with their machine gambling behaviour.

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