A Cross-Cultural Study of Weekly Sports Bettors in Australia and Spain

  • Hibai Lopez-GonzalezEmail author
  • Alex M. T. Russell
  • Nerilee Hing
  • Ana Estévez
  • Mark D. Griffiths
Original Paper


Betting on sport is one of the fastest developing forms of gambling internationally. Sports betting is attracting considerable scholarly, media, and regulatory attention due to the cultural salience of sport, and the rising public health concerns about the rapid proliferation and penetration of betting products in everyday life. Despite its global expansion, little is known regarding the comparative impact sports betting is having in different territories. This study aims to examine a sample of Australian (n = 738) and Spanish (n = 361) weekly sports bettors to assess their similarities and differences concerning sociodemographic characteristics, channels (i.e., online vs. offline) and devices used, in-play betting, and problem gambling severity. The findings showed high problem gambling scores among sports bettors in both countries, and consistent similarities in the association between problem gambling, in-play betting, and offline betting. Also, clear trends were observed between problem gambling, higher educational level, and female sport betting, particularly in the Australian sample. These results suggest a common pattern of risk factors for problematic sports betting and can help to inform worldwide regulatory efforts to tackle harmful sports betting-specific features such as in-play betting.


Problem gambling Sports betting In-play betting Online gambling Australian gambling Spanish gambling 



Hibai Lopez-Gonzalez has been supported by the Government of the Basque Country, Spain, under grant reference (Eusko Jaurlaritza, POS_2015_1_0062). He and Ana Estévez have been additionally funded by the Spanish Organization of the Blind (ONCE, III International Award). Alex Russell has received funding from Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation; 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. Nerilee Hing has received research funds from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Gambling Research Australia, Australian Government Department of Social Services, Alberta Gambling Research Institute, the Australian Gambling Research Centre, the Queensland, New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian Governments, the Australian Research Council, and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. She has also received consultancy funds from Echo Entertainment and Sportsbet and an honorarium from Singapore Pools for membership of its International Advisory Committee. Mark Griffiths declares that he has received funding for a number of research projects in the area of gambling education for young people, social responsibility in gambling and gambling treatment from the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, a charitable body which funds its research program based on donations from the gambling industry. He also undertakes consultancy for various gaming companies in the area of social responsibility in gambling.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

Both studies had obtained approval by the respective research ethics committee of their universities in their countries. The Australian study was approved by Southern Cross University Human Research Ethics Committee (Approval ECN-16-201), and reciprocal approval was granted by CQUniversity Australia Human Research Ethics Committee (Approval H16/06-163). The Spanish study was approved (Reference: ETK-13/15-16) in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. In both cohorts, participants were compensated for their time following each panel’s protocols. Participants were reassured of their right to withdraw from the respective studies at any time, the confidentiality of their data, and provided informed consent to participate.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of DeustoBilbaoSpain
  2. 2.Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversityBundabergAustralia
  4. 4.International Gaming Research Unit, Psychology DepartmentNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK

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