About personalizing Responsible Gaming messages (III)

(continued from previous issue)

By Dan Iliovici, Vicepresident, ROMBET

In this year’s first issue of Casino Life & Business Magazine, I began presenting the study*1 “Strategies for personalizing responsible gaming messages”, with the hope that it could be a source of inspiration for regulators, operators and those directly involved in the development and transmission of such messages.
We continue the translation of the study, accompanied by a few short comments where we felt the need for underlining or examples.

Self-assessment messages
“Self-assessment messages encourage consumers to reflect on their own personal situation and take appropriate action. Persuasive research shows that when individuals generate their own arguments and conclusions, they are more convincing to the individual than the statements provided by external sources. Self-generated arguments are often perceived as more accurate than information provided by external sources.
Messages that involve a result but allow the recipients to draw their own conclusions can reduce resentment and increase the persuasiveness of the messages.
A few lab and game room tests on the effectiveness of self-assessment messages (e.g., “Did you spend more than you intended?”) Found that such messages raise awareness of your game time and create more realistic thoughts than messages about the chance to win. This increases the likelihood that the player will take a break and reduce the length of play sessions.”
I wonder in this context, sarcastically, how self-evaluative the famous is … Play responsibly.

Specific and action-oriented message
”Less abstract messages, which include specific actions, such as setting a deposit limit, can increase compliance. Research on smokers has found that warning messages should contain enough information and identify steps to help smokers make progress towards quitting. Online gambling messages that suggested specific information (e.g., “10 gambling commands”) generated five times more “clicks” on the website than commonly used informational messages (e.g., ” How problem gambling works ”). A sense of urgency can also be introduced by using expressions such as “Have you already done?” This is in line with research on health warnings that have shown that messages that are positive and have a sense of urgency are considered to be strong motivators for action.”
Here is one more comment: I am convinced of the total futility of clever exhortations such as: “Drink responsibly, Play responsibly; Tobacco is seriously harmful to health, Read the package leaflet carefully (ten pages, with illegible font)”. It all sounds like a joke, something like, “We’re sorry, but we warned you that you must be responsible.”
But whose responsibility is it ?! Only the consumer?
Finally, I return to the old comparison between consumer ads vs. these so-called “warnings”. While the first ones overflow with new ideas, inventiveness, and I don’t know how to attract attention, to attract customers, the dry urges to responsibility are more annoying than doing any good.
And the next chapter of the study seems to confirm these observations.


Targeted messages for players
” Attempts to warn players of the risks associated with gambling and to direct them to Responsible Gaming (JR) information often use billboards with JR slogans and support numbers for problem gambling. Many studies have found that these messages are largely ignored by players. The extent to which the message is read, absorbed, and acted upon depends on the personal relevance of the message, the ability of the target recipient to assimilate the information, and their motivation to respond. To be effective, JR messages should involve the gambler’s cognitive, emotional, and motivational faculties and change worrying behaviors. It is unreasonable to expect that messages sent to all players could have an impact, given the many differences between players, including the type of resources each would use.

While old gambling systems were more inflexible, new technology allows for sophisticated JR strategies, directly linked to each game account, including personalized messages targeting players based on individual characteristics and game patterns. For example, gambling providers may send direct emails, online messages, or text messages to customers. In addition, where loyalty cards are used, operators can send personalized JR messages to customers through the screens of electronic gaming devices. Personalized messaging has been shown to go beyond traditional, static health information strategies, and is more likely to be read, remembered, and viewed as relevant. It should be noted that personalized messages have proven to be important in motivating change in problem players, whether or not they start treatment.”

Segmentation of player groups
Targeted messages should be particularly useful in populations where there is great variability between members, and that information is accessible in marketing databases.

A key differentiation between players is age. Young adults (aged 18 to 24) seem to have more gambling problems. Receiving warning messages by young adults is often considered different from the general population. In a meta-analysis of the evidence on the effectiveness of the warning message, Argo and Main argue that age is negatively correlated with the perception of the warning message, although they note relatively limited empirical evidence to support this. Young adults tend to perceive themselves as invulnerable to the negative consequences of risky behaviors and have difficulty relating to the negative consequences that may arise in the future. Young people also tend to underestimate the severity of gambling problems, do not recognize and accept these problems, and are less likely to seek help. They do not necessarily have a poorer understanding of the odds of gambling than adults, but they are more prone to misconceptions about gambling as well as the belief that gambling can be controlled. Due to the increased relevance of social norms for young people, manipulating the social context can increase the effectiveness of messages for this target cohort. For example, advertisements for the prevention of smoking and drug use that highlight social implications appear to be more compelling than warnings about physiological diseases in adolescents and young adults.

Instead, older adults are another group with unique risks and importance. According to the Canadian Community Health Survey of 2014, over 67% of people over the age of +65 are betting. Many researchers have emphasized the importance of protecting this group from the harms of gambling, noting the risk factors associated with fixed income, social isolation, death and increased leisure time in retirement. A key difference between seniors and other groups is that they show a more obsessive passion for gambling when their behavior is problematic. They are also more likely to respond to digital marketing strategies than other subgroups.

It is also plausible that different gambling users receive messages differently. Players who engage in games with real skills or perceived as skill games (e.g., poker, sports betting) consider themselves different because they use their ability to increase their chances of winning. Online poker players generally aim for less loss recovery than online casino players, responding better to time-bound instruments than money-setting tools (unlike other players) (…).

Frequent gamblers – usually characterized by participating in gambling once a week or more – have been identified as having a higher risk of gambling problems. Research has shown that frequency of participation is a highly predictive risk factor for gambling problems and can be a behavioral marker for gambling problems. Given the specific characteristics of this group, frequent players seem to be another plausible target group, a group that needs to be studied for personalized RG messages, along with young adults, seniors, and skill game players.

There are several variables that can be considered in the design and distribution of RG messages, and the impact of the message is likely to differ between different segments of players due to their own needs and preferences. There seems to be adequate evidence in the gambling literature to justify personalizing messages for young adults, older adults, skill game players, and frequent players. Although there are other risk groups, we examine these categories because they can be identified in most marketing databases. Age is collected as part of the control requirements in the registration processes (on the gaming platform n.m.), while the type and frequency of the game are variables controlled by the operator. The next section describes the thematic differences in the needs of these categories / groups of players.”

In the next issue of Casino Life & Business Magazine we will continue the presentation of this interesting academic study*3.

*1 Gainsbury, S.M., Abarbanel, B.L.L., Philander, K.S. et al. Strategies to customize responsible gambling messages: a review and focus group study. BMC Public Health 18, 1381 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-6281-0
*2 Adapted translation of the original paragraph.
*3 This article is distributed in accordance with the terms of the international license Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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