Live-odds gambling advertising and consumer protection [open-access article].

Abstract: In-play gambling is a recent innovation allowing gambling to occur during the course of a sporting event, rather than merely before play commences. For years, in-play gambling has been marketed in the UK via adverts displaying current betting odds during breaks in televised soccer, e.g., “England to score in the first 20 minutes, 4-to-1.” Previous research shows that this so-called “live-odds” advertising is skewed toward complex events with high profit margins which consumers do not evaluate rationally. Recent UK regulatory guidance on “impulsiveness and urgency,” aiming to enhance consumer protection around gambling advertising, states that gambling advertising should not “unduly pressure the audience to gamble.” We explored the frequency and content of live-odds advertising over the 2018 soccer World Cup, as a case study of the first major televised sporting event after the publication of this UK regulatory guidance. In total, 69 live-odds adverts were shown over 32 matches (M = 2.16 per-match), by five bookmakers. We identified two key features that made advertised bets appear more urgent than necessary. First, 39.1% of bets could be determined before the match ended. Second, 24.6% of bets showed a recent improvement in odds, including a 15.9% subset of “flash odds,” which were limited in both time and quantity. Advertised odds were again skewed toward complex events, with a qualitative trend toward greater complexity than at the previous World Cup. We believe that consumers should be protected against the targeted content of gambling advertising. Article available online

Reference: Newall, P.W.S., Thobhani, A., Walasek, L., & Meyer, C. (2019). Live-odds gambling advertising and consumer protection. PLoS ONE, 14(6): e0216876.


Relationship between attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms and problem gambling: A mediation analysis of influential factors among 7,403 individuals from the UK (open access article)

Jacob, L., Haro, J. M., & and Koyanagi, A. (2018). Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 7(3), 781–791. doi: 10.1556/2006.7.2018.72

Background and aims: Our goal was to examine the association between attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and gambling problems, and to identify potential mediating factors of this association. Methods: This study used cross-sectional, community-based data from 7,403 people aged ≥16 years who participated in the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007. ADHD symptoms were assessed using the Adult DHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) Screener. Problem gambling was assessed using a questionnaire based on the 10 DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling. Respondents were classified as having no problem, at-risk, or problem gambling. Logistic regression and mediation analyses were conducted to analyze the association between ADHD symptoms (i.e., ASRS score ≥14) and problem gambling and the role of several variables in this association. Results: The prevalence of at-risk (5.3% vs. 2.4%) and problem gambling (2.4% vs. 0.6%) was higher in individuals with ADHD symptoms than in those without ADHD symptoms. ADHD symptoms were significantly associated with both at-risk (OR = 2.15; 95% CI = 1.22–3.79) and problem gambling (OR = 3.57; 95% CI = 1.53–8.31) when adjusted for age, sex, and ethnicity. Common mental disorders (CMDs; i.e., depression and anxiety disorders) (mediated percentage = 22.4%), borderline personality disorder (BPD) traits (22.1%), stressful life events (13.2%), stress at work or home (12.6%), alcohol dependence (11.8%), and impulsivity (11.2%) were significant mediators in the ADHD–gambling association. Discussion and conclusions: Overall, ADHD symptoms were positively associated with problem gambling. CMDs, BPD traits, and stressful life events were important mediators in this relationship. Access full article


Online gambling: Addicted to addiction / Tim Cowen and Phillip Blond [open access e-publication]

[From the executive summary] In May 2018, the Government announced the introduction of a £2 limit on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). ResPublica campaigned for this in the 2017 Paper, ‘Wheel of Misfortune’, which demonstrates the impact these machines have upon gamblers at risk of developing a problem, and indicates the more general problem for society at large. Following on from this, ResPublica published the report ‘Watershed’, which has argued for government to close the legislative loopholes that exist in gambling advertising. This report builds on the recommendations in the previous ResPublica reports, developing a growing package of reforms to make the gambling industry more sustainable and responsible. Access e-publication online

About the Campaign for Fairer Gambling
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to ensure delivery and enforcement of the licensing objectives of the 2005 Gambling Act, including preventing gambling from being a source of disorder or crime, ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

About ResPublica
The ResPublica Trust (ResPublica) is an independent non-partisan think tank. Through our research, policy innovation and programmes, we seek to establish a new economic, social and cultural settlement. In order to heal the long-term rifts in our country, we aim to combat the concentration of wealth and power by distributing ownership and agency to all, and by re-instilling culture and virtue across our economy and society.

“Impulsiveness and urgency:” Gambling advertising and the 2018 soccer World Cup [open access article]

Newall, P. W. S., Thobhani, A., Walasek, L., & Meyer, C. (2018).

Abstract: Recent guidance from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority states that gambling adverts should not “unduly pressure the audience to gamble.” Live-odds adverts display current betting odds during breaks in televised soccer, e.g., “Kylian Mbappe to score next, 9-to-1.” In this preprint, it is argued that the 63 “live-odds” TV adverts shown over 32 matches by 5 bookmakers during the 2018 soccer World Cup do not comply with the regulator’s intentions. Live-odds were advertised as being inherently unstable. In total, 15 adverts showed a recent improvement in odds. Of these, 10 adverts were for “flash odds . . ., which means that if you’re not quick enough, they could be gone in a flash.” And 36 adverts were shown during the half-time break. There were common themes across bookmakers’ live-odds advertising, supporting previous studies on how live-odds adverts align with probabilistic cognitive illusions. We believe that sufficient evidence exists to justify banning live-odds adverts. Download full article

The economics of gambling: A collection of essays (open access thesis)

Wheeler, Rhys (2018). (PhD Thesis, Lancaster University). Retrieved from:

Abstract: Chapter 2 examines the harm associated with being a problem gambler. Problem gambling is conventionally determined by having a score in a questionnaire screen that exceeds some critical value. The UK is fortunate in having large representative sample surveys that embed such questions, and our estimate from the 2010 survey is that several hundred thousand people in the UK could be afflicted by PG. However, existing literature has not evaluated the size of the harm associated with being a problem gambler and this chapter uses this individual level survey data to evaluate the effect of problem gambling on self-reported well-being. Together with a corresponding effect of income on well-being a money-metric of the harm associated with being a problem gambler is derived. An important methodological challenge is that well-being and the harm experienced may be simultaneously determined. Nonetheless, instrumental variable estimates suggest that problem gambling imposes an even larger reduction in well-being than least squares would suggest. The role of gambling expenditures in the transmission between problem gambling and well-being is considered, distinguishing between draw-based games, such as lotto, from scratchcards, and from other forms of gambling.

Chapter 3 investigates the price elasticity of demand for the UK National Lottery – astate-licensed, draw-based lotto game. Little is known about the price elasticity of demand for gambling products because the “price” is typically hard to define. The exception is “lotto” where an economics literature has focused on the response of sales to variations in the prize distribution. Existing literature has used these responses make inferences about the price elasticity of demand, where price is defined as the cost of entry minus the expected winnings. In particular, the variation in the value of the jackpot prize pool, due to rollovers that are a feature of lotto, has been used as an instrument for price. This chapter argues that rollovers do not make valid instruments, because of their correlation with lagged sales, and propose an alternative identification strategy which exploits two arcane features of lotto. Finally, this chapter evaluates whether changes to the design of the UK National Lottery in 2013 and 2015 had a positive effect on the sales figures.

Chapter 4 investigates the extent to which the large, flat-rate tax imposed on the UK National Lottery is regressive. This chapter evaluates a Working-Leser demand model for lotto tickets using both Heckman’s selection model and Cragg’s double hurdle estimator using v household-level data. A unique strategy is employed to identify these two-stage routines by exploiting exogenous differences in consumer preference arising from religious practice. The income elasticity of lottery tickets is found to be significantly lower than previous estimates, suggesting that lottery tickets are inferior goods and that the (high) flat-rate tax imposed on lotto tickets is more regressive than previously thought. Whilst the three chapters are stand-alone essays, they are linked by the use of modern statistical techniques and the use of the best possible data. Together, they address key issues on the economics of gambling and the results are new to their respective literatures and of interest to academics and policy makers alike. Access thesis online