The Effects of Pop-up Harm Minimisation Messages on Electronic Gaming Machine Gambling Behaviour in New Zealand

In New Zealand a simple pop-up message feature that provides gambling session information and forces a break in play is mandatory on all electronic gaming machines in all venues (EGMs). Previous research has demonstrated small effects of more sophisticated pop-up messages tested predominantly in laboratory environments. The present research examined gambler engagement with and views on the New Zealand pop-up messages and on the relationship between pop-up messages and EGM expenditure. A sample of gamblers was recruited at casino and non-casino (pub) EGM venues. Most participants were aware of pop-up messages (57 %) and many saw them often (38 %). Among gamblers who reported seeing pop-up messages, half read the message content, and a quarter believed that pop-up messages helped them control the amount of money they spend on gambling. Participants who reported being likely to stop gambling in response to pop-up messages spent significantly less money on gambling when variables that were independently associated with EGM expenditure were controlled for. A modest harm minimisation effect of the pop-up message feature that has been operating in New Zealand for 5 years was evident. Suggestions for improvement of the harm minimisation potential of the current pop-up message feature are discussed.

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