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Path to Play, or who is interested in gambling and why

Over the past five years, the global gambling business has developed incredibly fast. In the last three years, growth rates exceeded 20% per year.

The pandemic has changed game distribution mechanisms. At the same time, people have more time to play. Experts suggest that growth will slow down somewhat in the next two years, but it will remain at a level of at least 10% per year.

Such changes call for national regulators to conduct careful studies of the gamblers’ behaviour to analyse the impact of various factors on their motivation. The primary goal is to continue to comply with high security standards and prevent the risks of increasing gambling addiction.

To understand the behaviour of gamblers, as well as who, why, and for what reasons starts to gamble, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has created a new research project, Path to Play.

It is designed to better understand “a typical gambler’s journey from beginning to the end of gambling interaction” and based on previous UKGC projects to delve deeper into gambler perspectives, habits, and the way they are affected by marketing tools.

Path to Play indicates key milestones and stages passed by gamblers. UKGC notes that this model is not universal since it recognizes that gamblers are all different with different experiences.

However, it allows you to determine a range of typical components, that is, stages passed by all gamblers, from thinking about participating in the game to obtaining a certain play outcome. All these stages affect gamblers’ behavioural reactions to varying degrees. They follow one after the other, except for “external triggers” and “internal impulses,” which are likely to occur at the same time.

The research is based on six components:

· passive influences (underlying attitudes and perceptions of gambling);

· rnal triggers (nudges that prompt consideration of play);

· internal impulses (motivation/reason to gamble);

· active search (product selection process);

· play experience (the experience of the play itself);

· play outcome (the impact of winning or losing).

The study once again proved that the risks of gambling addiction are exaggerated and not high. First of all, it is the case because the decision to gamble is usually made under the influence of a popular event, such as the FIFA World Cup or the Premier League. At the same time, the impact of other factors (advertising, sponsorship, promotions) is much smaller, making them “background noise.”

The key factor influencing the decision to gamble is passive influences: our upbringing, social circle, day-to-day encounters with gambling, and past experiences. They all affect our underlying perceptions and attitudes towards gambling.

The study proved that the most vulnerable to various influences at all research stages were gamblers and gambling addicts. It refutes the myth that promotions and other external factors turn ordinary gamblers into gambling addicts. No, they act only as factors increasing gambling addiction among those who already have it.

The implementation of the Path to Play project aims to help the UKGC launch new policies and initiatives to better address the issue of gambling and the industry as a whole by understanding the entire journey of gamblers and the factors impacting their behaviour.

Also, only through such research will gambling operators and national regulators receive accurate information on working and most effective security measures, as well as the support required by gamblers.

Accordingly, more research means more safety for gamblers.


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