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Making EGMs Accountable: Can an Informative and Dynamic Interface Help Players Self-regulate?

  • Christopher A. Byrne
  • Alex M. T. RussellEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Electronic gaming machines (EGMs) are recognised as one of the most harmful gambling forms, because they promote high-speed repetitive gambling and automatically reinvest winnings. These features, amongst others, make it difficult for EGM gamblers to keep track of their play. Tools to assist gamblers exist, but have limited effectiveness because they require user registration and manual activation, leading to low uptake. The present study aimed to evaluate the effect of a more informative interface (including removal of automatic reinvestment of winnings) and pop-up messages on gambling behaviour, and on player experience. A total of 213 Australian participants, recruited through social media, played a simulated online EGM. The experiment was a two (standard vs. informative interface) × two (pop-ups absent vs. present) between-subjects design. The informative interface: promoted keeping track of spins played; increased accurate estimation of amount spent (as did pop-up messages) and time played; and provided game usage figures which acted as cues to quit play. Once the initial deposit (but not winnings) was expended, informative interface users could opt to reinvest their winnings, although many opted to exit at that point. No difference in total spending or dissociation was observed between experimental groups. Informative interface users reported no reduction in enjoyment. Pop-up messages reduced enjoyment with the standard interface, but increased enjoyment when paired with an informative interface. These findings indicate that a more informative interface and pop-up messages may be useful in reducing the harmful nature of EGMs.

Keywords

Electronic gaming machines Gambling Pop-up messages Overspending Cues to quit Estimation accuracy 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was conducted as part of the requirements of an Honours degree by the first author. The last author was supervisor on this project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Christopher Byrne declares no conflicts of interest in relation to this manuscript. Alex Russell has received funding from Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation; NSW Office of Responsible Gambling; Queensland Justice and Attorney-General; Gambling Research Australia; National Association for Gambling Studies; Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Alberta Gambling Research Institute. He has received industry funding for an evaluation of problem gambling amongst casino employees from Echo/Star Entertainment Group. He is also affiliated with the University of Sydney. He declares no conflicts of interest in relation to this manuscript.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Approval was gained from the CQUniversity Human Research Ethics Committee - Approval number 2018-085.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversityRockhamptonAustralia
  2. 2.Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversitySydneyAustralia

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