The relationship between structural game characteristics and gambling behavior: A population-level study

Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between the structural characteristics and gambling behavior among video lottery terminal (VLT) gamblers. The study was ecological valid, because the data consisted of actual gambling behavior registered in the participants natural gambling environment without intrusion by researchers. Online behavioral tracking data from Multix, an eight game video lottery terminal, were supplied by Norsk-Tipping (the state owned gambling company in Norway). The sample comprised the entire population of Multix gamblers (N = 31,109) who had gambled in January 2010. The individual number of bets made across games was defined as the dependent variable, reward characteristics of a game (i.e., payback percentage, hit frequency, size of winnings and size of jackpot) and bet characteristics of a game (i.e., range of betting options and availability of advanced betting options) served as the independent variables. Control variables were age and gender. Two separate cross-classified multilevel random intercepts models were used to analyze the relationship between bets made, reward characteristics and bet characteristics, where the number of bets was nested within both individuals and within games. The results show that the number of bets is positively associated with payback percentage, hit frequency, being female and age, and negatively associated with size of wins and range of available betting options. In summary, the results show that the reward characteristics and betting options explained 27% and 15% of the variance in the number of bets made, respectively. It is concluded that structural game characteristics affect gambling behavior. Implications of responsible gambling are discussed.

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