Survey Suggests Gambling Participation Continues to Increase in U.S.

Survey Suggests Gambling Participation Continues to Increase in U.S.

Results from a new national survey of gambling attitudes and gambling experiences (NGAGE 2.0) indicate that Americans are gambling more than ever. The study, the second of its kind produced by the National Council on Problem Gambling, provides a glimpse into gambling activity in a time of rapid changes in the gambling landscape. The survey took place in April 2021 and included 2,000 Americans.

The 2021 survey attempted to address the following questions:

  • Has the popularity of gambling changed?
  • What types of gambling have become more or less popular?
  • What’s the effect of restricting gambling or legalizing gambling?
  • What has been the effect of the pandemic?
  • How has legalizing sports betting affected gambling behavior?
  • Are more people gambling online?
  • Is there a relationship between risky investing and risky gambling?
  • Who is at the highest risk for gambling problems?
  • Does the public understand or stigmatize problem gambling?

Some of the key findings include:

  • The number of people gambling on 11 or more activities during the past year nearly doubled since the first survey in 2018.
  • Approximately 26 million more people bet online from 2018 to 2021.
  • In the three-year period (2018-2021), there were approximately 15.3 million more sports bettors, 18 million more fantasy sports players and 25.5 million more online gamblers.
  • While sports betting has increased, it does not appear to be because of legalization of sports gambling.
  • Participation in fantasy sports did not differ between states where sports gambling is legal vs. where it is not.
  • During the pandemic, more people have gambled less than have gambled more; however, those who gambled more during the pandemic are at higher risk for problem gambling than those who gambled less.
  • The percentage of gamblers increasing play during the pandemic was highest in those under the age of 45.
  • People in states where sports betting is legal are slightly more likely to gamble on sports more frequently than people in states where sports gamble is not legal.
  • There was no difference in the types of sports bets — single bets on game outcomes, prop bets or parlay bets — made in states where sports gambling is legal vs. those where it is not. At this time, the concern that prop bets will grow rapidly is not founded in the survey.
  • There is no evidence that legalization of sports betting has caused an increase in problem betting.
  • There has been a decline in betting on football but growth in betting on more obscure sports, such as soccer, eSports and tennis.
  • Gambling that has increased online include table games (blackjack, roulette, etc.), eSports, horse racing and bingo.
  • Online gambling has increased most in the 18-24, 35-44 and 45-54 age groups. The growth is larger in men vs. women (though they are similar in percentage increase).
  • Weekly traders gamble on many activities. They are also much more likely to answer yes to at least one of four problem gambling behaviors, suggesting that counselors should ask about investment behavior (as a possible risk factor) as much as gambling behavior.
  • From 2018 to 2021, the percent of gamblers showing no problem behavior was much lower in younger people, while remaining the same in older people.
  • Only approximately one in four young people (ages 18 to 34) say that gambling isn’t a good way to make money.
  • Men are approximately 50% more likely to be problem gamblers than women.
  • Sports gamblers are far more likely (approximately 13x more likely) to become problem gamblers than other gamblers. It’s not clear if that’s because sports gamblers tend to be younger or because they are sports bettors.
  • Approximately one-third of gamblers bet on sports.
  • Nearly a quarter of those surveyed feel people with a gambling problem are unlikely to get better or recover.


THE WAGER: Gamblers’ difficulty in estimating their gambling outcomes

THE WAGER: Gamblers’ difficulty in estimating their gambling outcomes

Read the original article on The Basis website HERE

By John Slabczynski

Many responsible gambling strategies, such as setting a budget, rely on bettors to monitor their own gambling behavior. However, monitoring one’s own gambling has key limitations, as gamblers often underestimate their losses or overestimate their wins. These problems with recall might be due to the complexity of calculating gambling outcomes and the particular phrasing of gambling expenditure questions. This week, The WAGER reviews a study by Robert Heirene and colleagues that examined the accuracy of self-reported gambling outcomes (as compared to actual betting records) when participants were informed of specific ways to calculate these metrics.

What was the research question?
How accurately do participants report their gambling outcomes when given instructions on how to calculate them? Additionally, what variables predict estimation inaccuracy?

What did the researchers do?
The researchers recruited 652 customers1 from an online gambling operator via email and asked them to complete a short questionnaire. The questionnaire asked participants to estimate their total number of bets placed in the past 30 days and net gambling outcome, defined as total winnings or losses during this same period. Unlike prior studies that also assessed the accuracy of gambling expenditure, these researchers provided instructions on how to calculate these metrics. The researchers then compared participants’ reported number of bets and outcomes to their actual behaviors which were provided by the online gambling operator in the form of electronic betting records. Finally, the researchers assessed whether certain variables predicted the accuracy of estimated gambling outcomes.

What did they find?
Only 7.4% of participants estimated their betting frequency within a 10% margin of error of their actual betting frequency, with 69.6% underestimating their betting frequency. Estimates of net gambling outcomes were similarly biased; only 4.1% reported a gambling outcome within a 10% margin of error, and 64.8% underestimated their losses (see Figure). Participants’ actual net gambling outcome was the greatest predictor of estimation inaccuracy, particularly among those with a net loss. Underestimating winnings was the second most common estimation error, yet only 12.8% of participants made this error.


Figure. Percentage of participants in each estimation error group based on the difference between their self-reported net outcome and actual net outcome (i.e., based on electronic gambling record data). Click image to enlarge.



Why do these findings matter?
These findings show that even when given specific instructions on how to calculate their net gambling outcome, participants still failed to accurately estimate winnings or losses. This brings into question the effectiveness of many responsible gambling strategies, as people might not be able to consistently recognize when they’ve passed their betting limits. It may be better to have gambling operators provide bettors with frequent updates on their real gambling expenditure. This study also highlights potential validity issues in other gambling studies that rely on self-report.

Every study has limitations. What are the limitations in this study?
First, this article only assessed participants’ involvement on one online gambling operator and thus did not capture activity on other sites. Second, a very small number of participants (i.e., 1.9%) who received the recruitment email participated, and those who did participate appeared to have different gambling habits compared to those who did not participate.

For more information:
The Responsible Gambling Council has tips to gamble more responsibly. If you are worried about you or someone you love’s gambling habits, you can find gambling support resources at The National Council on Problem Gambling. Additional resources can be found at the BASIS Addiction Resources page.

— John Slabczynski

THE WAGER: Gambling and Play-to-win video games.

THE WAGER: Gambling and Play-to-win video games.

Read the original article on The Basis website HERE

By Matthew Tom, PhD

Many video games provide players with opportunities to purchase in-game items after they’ve already started playing. If these items give players a better chance of advancing in the game or help players stay competitive in online matches against other players, then the game is called Pay-to-Win (P2W). Some researchers have noted parallels between P2W games and some forms of gambling. For example, both can tap into people’s competitive spirits, getting them to spend more than they might otherwise. In this last week of 2021, as millions try out the new toys and games they received as holiday gifts, The WAGER reviews a study by Fred Steinmetz and colleagues that explores possible links between purchasing in P2W games, problems controlling gambling, and between gambling participation and problems controlling P2W purchasing.

What was the research question?
Are there associations between aspects of pay-to-win purchases in video games and problems controlling gambling?

What did the researchers do?
The researchers acquired data from the German online panel of the e-GAMES (Electronic Gam(bl)ing: Multinational Empirical Surveys). Participants responded to survey items related to (1) demographics, (2) participation in various gambling games, (3) number of payments and (4) total amount paid in P2W game purchases, and (5) motivations for making P2W purchases. Participants also filled out a screener questionnaire that measures risks associated with gambling (the Problem Gambling Severity Index; PGSI) and an analogous screener for risks associated with P2W game purchases (the PGSI modified for Pay-to-Win gaming, yielding a “P2W risk score”). The researchers used data from the 700 participants who both gambled online and were P2W players. They used linear regression models to estimate the associations between gambling activity and P2W risk score, between P2W purchasing and PGSI score, and between P2W risk score and PGSI score.

What did they find?
Gambling by itself was not a risk factor for problems with P2W games. However, extreme levels of gambling were. More specifically, participation in any of the eight forms of gambling listed in the survey had no or very small associations with P2W risk scores (see Figure), but people who spent more money on gambling, and those who had relatively high PGSI scores, had higher P2W risk scores. The reverse was also true; higher P2W risk scores and more frequent P2W purchases both predicted higher PGSI scores. However, in contrast, spending more money on P2W purchases was linked to lower PGSI scores.       Figure. Gambling activities used in linear regressions to predict pay-to-win risk score in Steinmetz et al. (2021). Click image to enlarge.

Why do these findings matter?
Simply participating in P2W gaming does not appear to increase the risk for gambling problems, or vice versa. However, excessively participating in one activity was linked with excessively participating in the other activity. There could be something connecting problems with one form of entertainment and problems with the other. For example, some P2W games contain gambling mechanics (e.g., loot boxes), so it is possible that these items are serving as substitutes for traditional gambling for some people. These findings suggest that those who experience problems with gambling should avoid getting deeply involved with P2W games, and that those who have had issues with P2W games should be careful around gambling.

Every study has limitations. What are the limitations in this study?
This survey was cross-sectional, so the researchers could not determine whether the problems with P2W games caused problems with gambling or vice versa. The screener for problems with P2W games has not been validated, so the risk score measured might not represent risk of harm accurately.

For more information: As publishers release new games, and add loot boxes and P2W mechanics to current games, fans and players with mathematical savvy post articles with their calculations of the utility (or lack thereof) of these items on forums such as Reddit. Much like with many forms of gambling, educating oneself about the games and how they function is one possible step towards preventing these games from creating problems in the future.

If you think you might have trouble controlling your video gaming (or gambling), resources are available for gaming and for gambling. Additional resources, including gambling and self-help tools, can be found on our Addiction Resources page.

— Matthew Tom, PhD

The WAGER, Vol. 26(11)

The WAGER, Vol. 26(11)

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Read the original article from The Wager Here.

By: Caitlyn Fong

Cryptocurrency, or “crypto”, is a digital currency that can be used to buy goods and services, or be traded for profit, with similarities with day trading on the stock market. Day trading itself is similar to gambling in some ways, and many day traders are also heavy bettors. Crypto trading is emerging as a similarly risky gambling-like activity. This week, The WAGER reviews a study by Paul Delfabbro and colleagues that investigated the gambling and stock trading habits of sports bettors, cryptocurrency traders, and people who do both.

What was the research question?
How do gambling habits, problem gambling rates, and prevalence of stock trading differ between sports bettors, crypto traders, and people who do both?

What did the researchers do?
The researchers surveyed 543 participants who reported gambling on sports or trading cryptocurrency at least once per month during the previous year. An international sample was recruited from the online platform Prolific and participants answered questions related to their gambling habits, crypto trading, and stock trading. Participants also completed the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). Then, the researchers compared three groups of participants: (1) those who only gambled on sports, (2) those who only traded cryptocurrency, and (3) those who did both.

What did they find?
Individuals who reported both crypto trading and sports wagering were more likely to have engaged in casino card games, race betting, and slots than those who reported either crypto trading or sports betting. Compared to sports bettors and those who did both, participants who only traded cryptocurrencies were less likely to gamble on all activities. The cryptocurrency-only group also had the lowest rates of moderate risk and problem gambling. Individuals who engaged in both crypto trading and sports wagering had significantly higher rates of moderate risk and problem gambling compared to sports bettors (see Figure). Importantly, however, 9.5% of the cryptocurrency-only group scored above the threshold for problem gambling on the PGSI, which is higher than the general population estimate of 0.5-2.0%. Stock trading was most likely to be reported by those who both traded cryptocurrency and wagered on sports.




Figure. Comparing the percent of participants in each group based on activities engaged in at least once per month during the past year whose PGSI score indicated moderate risk gambling or problem gambling. The difference between groups was statistically significant. Click image to enlarge.

Why do these findings matter?
The results show that crypto trading on its own is associated with increased problem gambling risk. Trading cryptocurrency also appears to amplify the risk of gambling alone, with those engaging in both activities most likely to experience gambling-related problems. Additionally, researchers have raised concerns that crypto trading has addictive qualities. Trading cryptocurrency is popular among gamblers, and should be incorporated into problem gambling screening and assessment protocols.

Every study has limitations. What are the limitations in this study?
This study was cross-sectional, so we cannot conclude whether trading cryptocurrency causes an increased risk for problem gambling or whether those already experiencing problem gambling have a greater inclination to engage in crypto trading. The study also relied on self-reported data, so participants might have under- or over-reported their actual gambling and/or crypto-related behaviors.

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.

— Caitlyn Fong, MPH

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