About personalizing Responsible Gaming messages

By Dan Iliovici, Vice-president, ROMBET

At the beginning of this new year, I reread a study*1 from 2018, on “Strategies for personalizing responsible gaming messages”, a complex material, which I hope will be of interest to all those involved in creating and transmitting this kind of message. I will try to give a brief overview of the most important aspects of this article, but I encourage you to go through the whole work, in original, in order to have a complete picture of this topic.

I begin by emphasizing the conclusion of the study:
“This research makes an important contribution in the field, demonstrating that the formulation of the message (responsible gaming, n.m.) will influence its effectiveness differently for different groups of players, to involve them in the use of risk reduction tools. Guidance is provided on topics that can be used by marketing agencies in the field of public health.”

I would also like to mention where the need to approach the subject came from, as stated by the study’s authors. The involvement of players in the use of various responsible gaming tools (self-exclusion, setting time limits and or amounts played/lost, using the advice of specialized psychologists, treatment, etc.) is relatively low, although players favor the fact. that all these tools are available.


The purpose of the project:
“Responsible gambling messages are widely used as a tool to enable informed choice and to encourage appropriate gambling behavior. It is generally accepted that players have different levels of risk of developing gambling problems and require various tools and resources to minimize harm. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the responsible gambling messages will be personalized and targeted to certain groups of players. This project aims to understand the hypothetical differences between groups of gamblers and to receive qualitative feedback on the archetypal targeted messages used to increase the use of responsible gambling tools.”

As we have noticed on various other occasions (articles, seminars, conferences), in the gambling market in our country most of the messages regarding responsible gaming are symbolic, to use a euphemism.
The most visible message of this type, both on street advertisements and in TV commercials, consists of a generic urge, barely visible, without any impact on viewers:
“Play responsibly”
Written in lowercase letters, barely visible, crammed at the bottom of the ad, next to that endless number with the ONJN*2 license, I don’t think the message has any effect of “accountability” of any player addressee. Rather, it seems a (voluntary?) Compliance with a vague, totally ineffective legal provision. We will find the same approach to the warning message (text, graphics) in tobacco advertising. But here’s another discussion…

On the other hand, in the case of online gambling sites, we can find, in most cases, a page dedicated to the subject of responsible gaming, with various tips, sometimes with various tools for self-assessment of the degree of risk for players who would be interested in the subject. And here we will find the same petite fonts, dry texts, sometimes kilometers, without any graphic elements that could attract anyone’s attention. They look more like pages of Terms and Conditions that no one ever reads – maybe except for lawyers.

Finally, to conclude on a more relaxed note – as at the beginning of the year – all this reminds me of the joke about similar messages from another industry, the problems of which, the effects of excessive consumption, are not discussed much, probably as a result of an efficient, well-coordinated lobby:
“Get drunk responsibly!”

But let’s go back to the quoted study. The research was carried out by organizing focus groups, to test the messages addressed to certain types of players:
– young adults (18-24 years old)
– seniors (60+ years old)
– frequent players – those who play, or at least declare that they play weekly
– game players who are also involved in certain skills (poker, sports betting).

“In order to determine the effectiveness of responsible gaming messages are analyzed: the type of content used, how they are framed (graphics), whether and to what extent the messages determine players are involved (or not) in self-referential processing (applying those tips and messages), the level of specificity and applicability for use in the real world and the use of social norms to influence the behavior of the individual*3.”

In the next issue of Casino Life & Business Magazine we will continue the presentation of this interesting academic study*4.

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. That number (!), Made up of dozens of numbers and letters, seems more like a secret code than a useful purpose.
3. The quoted paragraph is adapted.
4. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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