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Smart phones lead to Greater Harm from Sports Betting, Gambling

A team from Central Queensland University in Australia found that greater short-term betting harm was significantly associated with the ability to bet 1) anywhere anytime; 2) when there was privacy when betting, and 3) when there was greater access to promotions and betting options. Betting sessions when these features were prioritised were more likely to involve impulsive betting, use of betting inducements, and betting with more operators.


People who took part in the research who identified with more gambling problems, were more likely to prioritise privacy and the ability to bet anywhere - anytime.   They identified a tendency to bet on in-game events, use promotional inducements, bet with more operators, and report greater betting harm. 


Smart phones support greater harms from sports betting
Smart phones support greater harms from sports betting


The researchers commented that greater short-term betting harm was significantly associated with three situational features afforded by smartphones:

The privacy afforded by smart phones contributed to harmful sports gambling.  Smartphone use is so common that gamblers can discreetly make bets without their activities being apparent to others.  In this way they avoid any social pressure that might help to limit an individual’s gambling behaviour.


The ability to bet anywhere anytime, exclusively provided by smartphones, was also associated with short-term betting harm. A preference for being able to bet anywhere anytime was associated with impulsive betting during the betting session. This reflects impaired control and is consistently linked to gambling problems among sports bettors.  ‘Anywhere-Anytime’ access was also related to increased engagement with promotional inducements and betting across multiple operators.  Sports bettors describe how the constant availability of betting facilitates more frequent and impulsive betting, especially when triggered by the push notifications and betting opportunities they see while browsing on their phone.


The third situational feature associated with increased short-term betting harm was prioritising greater access to promotions and betting options. Smartphones provide instant access to promotional inducements that often have a direct link to the advertised offer. Having accounts with multiple operators increases the inducements received and allows bettors to shop around for the best offers. Experimental and longitudinal studies demonstrate that increased exposure to, and uptake of, betting promotions result in higher betting expenditure and a tendency to place riskier bets with longer odds which tends to result in losses and is likely to contribute to betting harm.


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