The WAGER – Consumer protection tool use among Australian online gamblers

The WAGER – Consumer protection tool use among Australian online gamblers

Read the original article on The Basis website here.

By Kira Landauer, MPH

Many jurisdictions require online gambling operators to provide digital features that are intended to help players gamble more responsibly and minimize gambling-related harms. These consumer protection tools (CPTs) include setting limits on the amount of money one can deposit into their account (deposit limits), the ability to temporarily deactivate one’s account for a short period of time (timeouts), or the option to deactivate one’s account for a longer period of time (self-exclusion). But, do online gamblers actually use the CPTs available to them? This week, The WAGER reviews a study by Robert M. Heirene and colleagues that examined CPT use among customers of multiple online gambling operators in Australia in 2018 – 2019.

What were the research questions?
Which CPTs are used and how often are CPTs used by customers across six major Australian online gambling operators during a 12-month period? Does CPT use vary depending on customer demographics or wagering behavior?

What did the researchers do?
The researchers obtained de-identified account data for 39,853 customers across six online wagering operators in Australia. The records covered July 2018 to June 2019. All customers wagered at least once during this period. Customer data included demographics and (for the 12-month study period): the use of any CPTs (deposit limits, timeouts, and self-exclusion), transaction details (e.g., withdrawals and deposits), and all bets placed.

The researchers examined the overall prevalence of CPT use. They placed customers into quartiles based on their betting intensity (i.e., median number of bets per active betting day). CPT use was compared across customer betting intensity quartiles. The researchers also examined demographic characteristics and wagering behaviors among different groups of CPT users (non-uses, deposit limit setters, and timeout and/or self-exclusion users).

What did they find?
Only 16.8% of customers used at least one CPT during the 12-month study period. Deposit limits were the most frequently used CPT (15.8% of customers). Timeout and self-exclusion tools were used by less than 2% of customers (see Figure). CPT use increased linearly with gambling intensity. Rates of CPT use (timeouts and self-exclusion, in particular) were highest among customers who gambled more intensely. Customers most often used deposit limits first, or used deposit limits and a timeout in the same day. Many customers made changes to their deposit limits. Increasing the deposit limit (i.e., making it less restrictive) was the most frequent change. Customers who made the most changes to their deposit limits were more likely to increase or remove the limit.

Compared to non-CPT users and deposit limit setters, customers who used timeouts and/or self-exclusion were more likely to be younger, male, bet more times per active day, lost more money, deposited more money into their accounts, and had higher median stake amounts during the study period. Few differences were observed between the non-CPT users and the deposit limit setters.

Figure. The prevalence of use of different consumer protection tools among online gamblers from six Australian wagering operators (total n = 39,853). Click image to enlarge.

Why do these findings matter?
Low rates of CPT usage might be attributed to a general lack of awareness that these tools exist. Further, customers may not be engaging with these tools due to the misperception that CPTs are intended for customers with gambling problems. Operators should do a better job of promoting these tools and communicating their relevance and benefits to all customers. Gambling operators might also consider using an “opt-out” strategy for certain CPTs, like deposit limits. In this case, customers would be provided an opportunity when signing up to either set a deposit limit or actively opt-out of doing so, which might increase the use of this CPT. Finally, this study found that limits are often increased or removed by customers at risk of experiencing gambling problems, at least according to their gambling intensity. Operators might consider imposing greater restrictions on the ability to increase or remove limits, and could consider implementing strategies to help customers set and stick to appropriate limits.

Every study has limitations. What are the limitations of this study?
This study used customer data from Australian gambling operators, where online gambling is restricted to sports and race wagering. Findings might not be generalizable to other jurisdictions that offer other forms of online gambling, such as online poker or casino games.

For more information:
Do you think you or someone you know has a gambling problem? Visit the National Council on Problem Gambling for screening tools and resources. For additional resources, including gambling and self-help tools, visit our Addiction Resources page.

— Kira Landauer, MPH

Peer Support Specialists Play Vital Role in Problem Gambling Recovery

Peer Support Specialists Play Vital Role in Problem Gambling Recovery

As seen on The Phoenix Spirit. Read the original article Here.

By Bill Stein

There is great power in learning from someone who has “been there before.” People with similar lived experience may be able to listen and provide hope and guidance in a way that is uniquely received.

So-called “mental health peer support” has existed for decades. Since the 1990s, the concept of “consumers as providers” has become a larger component in mental health service settings.

Perhaps there is no more powerful example of the power of peer support than when a recovering compulsive gambler shares their story with someone still in the throes of addiction. Indeed, programs such as Gamblers Anonymous are built largely on the idea that others with similar challenges can lead the way to recovery.

Peer support specialists are people who have been successful in the recovery process and can help others experiencing similar situations. Peer support specialists have a proven place as a key component of integrated care for recovery.

What is a Peer Support Specialist?

A peer support specialist is someone with lived experience who is able to share that perspective with another person who has not yet achieved recovery from addiction. They provide a link between clinical services and “outside” supports and can help someone navigate the behavioral health system and find appropriate community resources. A peer provides an example of empowerment and success and can be a trusted role model. It’s often easier for a person seeking to begin recovery to talk with a peer support specialist than it is to talk to a counselor or attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting. Peer support specialists can also foster trust in a healthcare system that has often disenfranchised many of those whom it serves.

The value of lived experience is helpful throughout the time a peer support specialist spends with a client but can be particularly helpful when the gambler is vulnerable to relapsing. Some peers are available 24/7 so that a gambler in distress can reach them at any time.

Benefits of Gambling Peer Recovery Support

Recovery from any addiction is a long process. Most people need support at various points throughout the difficult journey. While everyone’s struggle to achieve recovery is different, what each person has in common is the need to receive support in one form or another. Although the faces of addiction are many, all persons on the road to recovery need the support of others, who need to be familiar with what it means to be an addict.

There are four key elements to the support provided by the peer support specialists:

  1. Emotional support. The peer support specialist provides emotional support by encouraging the individual through empathy, concern or caring, and helping to strengthen confidence and self-esteem.
  2. Information source. The peer support specialist shares their knowledge about resources available to guide individuals to success, including access to treatment, which is often available at no cost.
  3. At a practical level, a peer support specialist can help people complete tasks necessary for successful recovery, such as helping with transportation and housing.
  4. A peer support specialist helps individuals gain a sense of belonging and being with others.

Peer support specialists may get involved in a range of activities, including:

  • Being a voice in individual, family, and group counseling.
  • Providing support to family members of problem gamblers.
  • Helping someone through financial counseling.
  • Being available by phone (including after hours).
  • Giving presentations, teaching, and providing training.
  • Being the voice of recovery providing input into program planning.
  • Serving as a connection to the “recovery community.”
  • Providing support in negotiations with the criminal justice system.

Many who work in recovery are in recovery themselves

Many people believe that individuals without shared experience cannot help those with addictions or fully understand what they’ve gone through. Studies provide considerable support for this contention. A review of existing studies found that the percentage of substance use disorder treatment providers who were in recovery was 33-50 percent. Those in recovery who are involved in client care have an ability to introduce their clients and patients to 12-step and other self-help supports in ways that those not in recovery are unable to do.

Provider Benefits

Peer support specialists that work within a treatment delivery system can provide an important benefit to providers. They can offer assistance with resources for those identified with a gambling problem and/or their family members. 

Trained Professionals

While specifics vary by state, there is a formal process for becoming certified as a peer support specialist. In Minnesota, peer specialists must have 30 hours of continuing education every two years in areas of mental health recovery, mental health rehabilitative services and peer support.

The Need for Gambling Peer Support Specialists in Minnesota

Unfortunately, peer support specialists are not currently approved as part of gambling treatment programs in Minnesota. However, a number of other states, including Maryland and Connecticut, recognize them as vital parts of treatment and recovery. In each of these state programs, gambling peer support specialists engage with an individual as soon as they call the state gambling helpline. While not everyone seeking help may be ready to sit down with a counselor, they may be receptive to having a conversation, or a series of conversations, with a trained peer before seeking formal counseling. In fact, each of these states have seen an increase in those seeking treatment since the inclusion of the peer support specialist, crediting the importance of those early conversations.

In Connecticut and Maryland, the gambling peer support specialist is an integral component to an individual’s recovery treatment plan, working in conjunction with the counselor as added support. Peer support specialists are also available post-treatment, maintaining connections as the person in their early recovery begins to negotiate their new way of being.

The Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling is working with the Minnesota Department of Human Services to bring peer support professionals into the treatment mix given their clear value in helping those with gambling addiction in their recovery journeys.

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