All licensed gambling operators must have in place some sort of consumer protection. Usually, gambling operators have tools to help players gamble in a responsible manner. This is also the case with online gambling although many operators don’t promote or encourage people to use them. For that reason the use of these tools is sometimes limited. according to CasinosJungle, examples of protection tools include messaging, self-tests, deposit limits, age restrictions, activity statements, and temporary time-outs.
Activity statements let consumers track how much they are spending.
Voluntary deposit limits let consumers choose their own limit on how much money they can deposit in a designated period. Finally, temporary timeouts let consumers suspend their account for a specified period.
Research has shown that some of these tools are better than others in reducing the players’ risks.
There’s still only limited research as to the extent to which consumers use these tools online however.
A recent study from Australia studied 564 participants between the ages of 19 and 83 on 6 Australian online gambling sites. All the participants had gambled online within the last 6 months. The researchers asked whether participants set a budget for themselves and the strategies they used to manage them.
The researchers asked about three different tools: activity statements, deposit limits, and time-outs. Participants then responded as to how satisfied they were with each tool, the reasons for using them, and whether it impacted their behaviour.
To assess the severity of gambling amongst the participants the
researchers used the matter Problem Severity Index. Those that scored highly were asked what kind of gambling contributed to their gambling problems. They were considered to have moderate-risk or problem gambling.
Most of the participants (60.5%) knew about all three consumer protection tools. Results showed that around half the participants set budgets for their online gambling. The majority of the participants who set a limit stayed within the number they budgeted. Most users of activity statements didn’t think they had an effect on their gambling.
Only 20% thought that activity statements had made a change.
Many users seemed to find deposit limits and time-outs did help with their gambling. They cited reasons such as feeling in greater control of their gambling, and spending less money and time on gambling.
Low-risk gamblers were the most likely to set budgets for online gambling. People who were moderate risk gamblers preferred deposit limits and time outs than non-problem gamblers.
Younger participants and those at higher risk used more consumer protection tools.
This research and other studies can inform strategies to minimise harm and promote the use of protection tools for gamblers. Service providers and gambling institutions could use the information gained from the study to develop further programs to help user gamble safely. Future research, for example, could examine the effectiveness of the three consumer protection tools for other groups of gamblers not looked at within this particular study.