Self-reported losses versus actual losses in online gambling: An empirical study

Abstract

Many research findings in the gambling studies field rely on self-report data. A very small body of empirical research also suggests that when using self-report, players report their gambling losses inaccurately. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the differences between objective and subjective gambling spent data by comparing gambler’s actual behavioral tracking data with their self-report data over a 1-month period. A total of 17,742 Norwegian online gamblers were asked to participate in an online survey. Of those surveyed, 1335 gamblers answered questions relating to gambling expenditure that could be compared with their actual gambling behavior. The study found that the estimated loss self-reported by gamblers was correlated with the actual objective loss and that players with higher losses tended to have more difficulty estimating their gambling expenditure (i.e., players who spent more money gambling also appeared to have more trouble estimating their expenses accurately). Overall, the findings demonstrate that caution is warranted when using self-report data relating to amount of money spent gambling in any studies that are totally reliant on self-report data.

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