GambleAware has called for operators to drastically improve resources dedicated to the development of safer gambling tools.
The charity’s criticism comes after a ‘randomised control trial’ undertaken by partners, the Behavioural Insights Team (BI Team), which studies players’ use of deposit limit tools and further ‘commitment devices’ offered by operators.
Commitment devices are common tools used by operators to dissuade users from breaking their intention to stop or reduce their gambling habits.
GambleAware had commissioned the BI Team to further research into whether current designs of deposit limits influenced gambling behaviours and outcomes.
The BI Team reported that commitment devices trialled made no statistically significant difference to the amounts deposited by customers, and instead the intervention appeared to reduce the number of customers that chose to set a deposit limit.
The trial had been undertaken on 861 bet365 customers, who set deposit limits to their standard options or were required to impose the commitment devices of the ‘self-persuasion’ method, which asked participants to share advice for another person setting a deposit limit, or ‘personal commitment’ method, which requested participants share their reasons for setting a deposit limit.
For the commitment methods, the BI Team’s research found that ‘there was no strong evidence of difference that interventions had an effect on amounts deposited’.
Concerns were raised that significantly fewer customers chose to impose deposit limits on their accounts despite the intervention measures – indicating a backfire’ effect within the context of the trials’.
The BI team noted that commitment devices may impose unwarranted frictions, in players setting deposit limits, by providing additional information to read, and choices to make.
As a result, GambleAware states that safer gambling tools are not attuned with effective product development and has urged the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) to ensure that the operator ‘show demonstrable development in their safer gambling tool designs’.
“This report is the latest instalment in a huge amount of detailed safer gambling research by the team at BIT,” said Rosanna Barry, Principal Advisor, Consumer Markets and Business team, from the Behavioural Insights Team. “Deposit limit tools have the potential to deliver benefits to those who gamble and to society as a whole, without constraining customer choice, but innovation and development has been lacking.”
“Our work has shown just some of the ways that behavioural research could be used to refine these tools and their function.”