Ways to tackle problem gambling

Let me start by reviewing reactions from the first part of the article that ran last week.

The closest resemblance one can draw from regulation parallel to sports betting is alcohol because despite both sharing the same social-economic effects they are legal in many parts of the world and even share same taxation policy principles.

Therefore, to compare it with marijuana or cocaine is pretty pedestrian and ignorant.

To pick up from last week, we will now look at regulation around problem gambling, advertising and promotions of sports betting, Getting a tight legal framework for the emergence of online sports betting has proved a challenge for many countries.

For example, media sports websites are big affiliate partners of betting operators and have struck a business model where if a reader is redirected by a betting banner from a sports site to a betting site and the fan places a bet, the sports site gets a proportion of the net gaming revenue generated.

Companies like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are now seeing sports betting promotions and advertisements as new revenue streams, since this symbiosis happens online, it makes regulatory intervention challenging.

But the crux of the regulation subject remains that several research studies show that betting promotions and marketing activity is associated with sports betting problems and in recognising this potential harm, sports betting promotion and marketing is one important area of regulation.

First is risk-lowering advertising, where media audiences are prevalently bombarded with sports betting promotions that increasingly normalises betting activities with a strategy to diminish the perceived risks of betting activity and harmful consequences of excessive betting.

For example, betting company promotions offer welcoming bonuses for new customers, free bonuses for loyal bettors that misguide gamblers that the activity is risk-free with no responsibilities when done excessively.

In Canada, sports betting televised commercials have been associated with the imagery of media sport communication while the betting aspect of luck is downplayed.

Second is that research also shows that specific forms of marketing promotions more specifically wagering inducements stimulate problematic betting consumption behaviour.

An example is in-play sports betting commonly known as live-betting. It is a continuous form of gambling that induces and promotes impulse betting – incentivising spontaneous betting by giving high expectations of success than objectively warranted.

In-play sports betting is the fastest growing form of gambling advertisement. For example, in British and Spanish sports betting advertisements in-play betting is prevalent in just under half of the adverts.

The problem with wagering inducements like live-betting is that it thrives on cognitive gambling behaviour - illusion or perception of control over betting activity - generated from induced expectation of success high above the one objectively warranted.

It’s also this cognitive illusion that still drives illegal betting markets in jurisdictions where sports betting is illegal whilst in jurisdiction where sports betting is legal, this cognitive behaviour has been found to be heavily maintained with sports betting advertisement and promotion Now to counter such risks, sports betting companies are asked to put checks to monitor such cognitive betting behaviour.

One of them is risk profiling bettors on their platform based on their gambling activity and this helps track and detect problem gambling at the earliest opportunity.

With such checks in place a regulator like the Betting Control and Licensing Board is in a better position to monitor the overall gambling attitudes, consumption and behaviour of the general population through a Problem Gambling Severity index.

The Problem Gambling Severity index is the widely used scale measuring severity of gambling problems and classifies gamblers into four types: non-problem, low risk, moderate risk and problem gamblers.

Its such kind of best standard and practices of regulation that is needed, rather than the reactionary form of bring the whole tower down.

As emerging technologies come up decentralising sports betting like discrete exchange of money through blockchains, the more government will find itself playing catch-up.

The writer is an economic analyst.

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