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Research into online gambling behaviour informs UK government review

Published:22 April 2021

CQUniversity Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Gambling Studies, Dr Philip Newall.

Speed-of-play limits for online casino games may be effective in reducing gambling expenditure, according to CQUniversity Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Philip Newall.

The former professional poker player, turned gambling studies academic, recently co-authored a research paper - A speed-of-play limit reduces gambling expenditure in an online roulette game - to help inform the UK government's review of online gaming.

Policy-makers in the UK have put forward two recommendations to online gambling, given that UK online casino games are not subject to any stake or speed-of-play limitations.

The first recommendation is to limit the maximum bet to £2, and the second is a proposal from a recent House of Lords Select Committee to ensure that no online casino game can be played faster than its in-person equivalent.

Dr Newall says this research investigates the effects of the second proposal on gamblers’ behaviour, using an incentivised and realistic online roulette game, with an enforced speed-of-play limit for some participants.

“The team experimentally investigated the speed-of-play proposal, in an experiment with 1,002 UK online roulette players, incentivised payouts, and £4 maximum bets,” he says.

“Participants played on a commercial online roulette game, which was slowed-down in one condition to enforce a speed-of-play limit of one spin every 60 seconds.”

“The manipulation was successful in slowing down speed-of-play.

“In the normal speed condition, the average time between two spins (including the time for the wheel to spin) was 21 seconds, whereas, in the slowed-down condition, the average time between spins was 89 seconds.”

Dr Newall says the published research findings can now be used to help inform the UK government's review of online gaming.

“Whereas maximum bet limits may do most to reduce harm amongst high-spending gamblers, speed-of-play limits can help to reduce gambling intensity and expenditure for gamblers of all wealth levels," he says.

For more information on CQUniversity gambling research, visit: www.cqu.edu.au/about-us/structure/schools/mas/research/experimental-gambling-research-laboratory