Developing evidence for the ‘Bespoke-Risk Environment’ within the evolving landscape of gambling

  • Jamie Torrance

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Background: Due to regulatory liberalisation and technological advancement, the gambling environment of the UK has rapidly evolved in recent years. Gambling advertisements are now complex, diverse, and pervasively disseminated via various formats and across numerous spheres such as television, sporting events, and social media. Similarly, gambling products have correspondingly increased in complexity whereby the accessibility, availability, diversity, and speed of such products have escalated significantly. These factors possess the potential to facilitate bespoke gambling-related harm if they interact and align with specific consumer
    vulnerabilities (or personal risk-factors). However, there is a need to develop illustrative evidence of these interactions within the ‘bespoke-risk environment’ of gambling by recognising the corporate determinants of such harm (i.e. advertising and product design) rather than focusing exclusively upon the personal risk-factors of consumers.

    Methods: A rapid-review was conducted upon the recent literature (2015-2020) in order to provide a taxonomy of emergent gambling advertising strategies. Two qualitative studies were also conducted to investigate the perceptions and experiences of young adult gamblers within the UK towards gambling advertising, gambling regulation, gambling product preferences, and currently utilised harm-reduction strategies. With the aim of evidencing the bespoke-risk environment of gambling, a quantitative cluster analysis was employed within the fourth study in order to distinguish profiles of sports bettors in terms of emotional and
    cognitive dysregulation alongside their use of various sports betting product features. Lastly, a brief intervention aimed at inoculating consumers against the persuasive elements of gambling advertising was designed.

    Findings: Numerous gambling advertising strategies were identified including positively framing gambling, not adequately displaying harm-reductive content within such advertisements, and utilising subtle forms of online marketing whereby the promotional intent is not made explicit. Qualitative inquiry highlighted predominantly negative perceptions towards such practices in which they were often deemed to be misleading, unethical, and deceptive. Participants also reported a wide range of product preferences that were each associated with bespoke risks in light of the supporting literature. Despite this, the general awareness of the sample towards currently utilised harm-reductive measures was low alongside such measures often being deemed ineffective or hard to find. An example of the bespoke-risk environment was observable amongst sports bettors where a sizeable cohort of the sample reported maladaptive gambling that was facilitated by emotional/cognitive dysregulation and specific sports betting product features. However, this cohort were not consciously aware or able to accurately identify these instances of maladaptive gambling.

    Conclusions: This thesis contributes to a better understanding of the bespoke-risk environment of gambling and highlights the need for a regulatory overhaul alongside the more ethical redesign of gambling advertising and product features. Furthermore, this thesis also emphasises the necessity of effective interventions that help consumers make more autonomous and well-informed decisions in response to gambling advertising and to better understand the harmful properties of gambling products.
    Date of Award2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBev John (Supervisor), Gareth Roderique-Davies (Supervisor) & James Greville (Supervisor)

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