New study finds losing family more important than money when it comes to problem gambling messages
Advertising messages outlining social consequences of problem gambling tend to be more effective than those that show the loss of material possessions or money, says a new report from the University of Melbourne.
The research, conducted by PhD Student Davide Orazi, Dr Jill Lei and Associate Professor Liliana Bove from the Faculty of Business and Economics, reveals actionable insights for the design of responsible gambling communications and policy.
Dr Lei said that gambling awareness campaigns may be ineffective for problem gamblers if they focus on the loss of money or material possessions.
"Problem gamblers are familiar with the lose-win-lose gambling cycle and often lose and win money in the immediate gambling environment, so we see less response to these types of messages," said Dr Lei.
"We see more response when the losses are difficult or impossible to fix, for instance when the relationships with friends and family are threatened. Individuals are naturally averse to losses, but loss aversion is often activated only with the prospect of losing something relevant for the individual."
The report examined the responses of 260 problem and recreational gamblers to advertising messaging portraying material losses such as losing money and social outcomes such as losing family or friends.
The study also found that advertising messages were more successful when they outlined the threat of losing social bonds a consequence of gambling rather than when they promised to preserve social bonds through stopping gambling altogether.
"Alone, awareness campaigns are by no means sufficient to tackle problem gambling," said Associate Professor Bove. "But they are the main channel for reaching the broader gambling population and inviting more responsible gambling behaviour. For problem gamblers, they represent an invaluable contact point to promote support programs".
Problem gambling is associated to social behaviours such as violence, divorce, substantial debts, and other unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, binge drinking, and drug abuse.
- Statistics show that up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or already are, problem gamblers
- The social cost to the community of problem gambling is estimated to be at least $4.7 billion a year.
- The actions of one problem gambler negatively impact the lives of between 5 and 10 others. Every year, up to 5 million Australians may be affected by problem gambling, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem.