Player behavioral tracking and personalized feedback in on-line gambling: Implications for prevention and treatment of problem gambling

Abstract

In recent years, participation in online gambling has been growing at a significant rate, as have concerns over its connection to problem gambling. The relationship between online access and problem gambling is complex. On one hand the nature of online gambling appears to invite potential for problematic gambling; on the other hand it is also well-suited to the incorporation of sophisticated RG tools that can help prevent excessive gambling. This article provides a brief overview of research on the efficacy of several increasingly available RG tools - limit-setting, in game “pop-up” messages and player behavioral tracking and personalized feedback - and the potential of these tools, used in concert, to increase gambler’s self-awareness and self-monitoring to reduce risk across a broad spectrum of gambling involvement. In addition to weighing the growing evidence for the preventative utility of such RG strategies, we also consider the burgeoning interest in their therapeutic/clinical potential, both as part of self-guided or therapist-assisted online interventions and as adjunct to conventional in-person clinical services. We conclude that, limitations notwithstanding, the evidence for online RG tools that incorporate player behavioral tracking and personalized feedback is quite encouraging when it comes to reducing problem gambling risk; and that, although less far along, research on the treatment potential of interventions incorporating such technology is also promising and merits further study.

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