Pre-commitment in gambling: A review of the empirical evidence

Abstract

Norway, a Canadian province and Australia have introduced, or are considering introducing, voluntary or mandatory pre-commitment systems for electronic gaming machines. This paper critically reviews the empirical literature evaluating the effectiveness of such systems as a responsible gambling strategy. A literature search identified 17 relevant peer- and non-peer-reviewed publications. Self-report data suggests the majority of gamblers are positively predisposed to the concept of pre-commitment but non-problem and low-risk gamblers regard the system as personally unnecessary. Overall, studies reported variable findings relating to adherence to money limits and expenditure. Few gamblers appear to use options to set time limits. Methodological flaws such as low participation rates, compromised data integrity resulting from card sharing and failure to control for concurrent gambling outside trials limit conclusions drawn regarding the effectiveness of pre-commitment. It is recommended that further systematic trials should be implemented to determine the impact of pre-commitment systems on gamblers' behaviour.

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