Comparing gambling to ‘crack cocaine’ has often been reserved when journalists are covering Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in the UK, but a new study suggests that mobile gambling apps are even more addictive – putting thousands of users at risk every single week.
Professor Richard Tuney – a leading psychologist, who recently conducted a study to look at addiction levels, revealed that because it’s so easy to place a bet through mobile betting apps, a certain element of control that users have when visiting a casino, has vanished.
His study – which gambling critics look set to use when lobby the government to clamp down on gambling even more – found that participants failed to stop themselves betting, even after losing up to 40 bets consecutively.
Professor Tuney, who is the head of psychology at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, conducted his 12-week study to study the correlation between gambling apps and addiction. He found that – largely – mobile betting ‘falls under the radar’, opening up users to potential addiction. One of the mains reasons for this, he cited, was the fact that mobile phones are widely-accepted in today’s society. Heading regularly to a casino, however, isn’t.
He said: “Policymakers have clamped down hard on fixed-odds terminals because they’ve become associated with problem gamblers. But actually, we’ve been overtaken by technology, because it’s now possible for people to gamble pretty much anywhere, any time on their smartphone.
“For people psychologically disposed to addictive behaviors, this means an outlet for that is now just a tap away. So while these games may look non-threatening, they’re potentially more dangerous precisely because they’re so ubiquitous.”
The study he headed, focused on a number of different areas – but one of the main ones, was looking at how long players needed to lose for, before they quit for the session.
The average user lost a staggering 40 consecutive bets before they decided to throw in the towel completely, and one user continued until losing 177 bets in a row – setting a worrying prescedant for those around the country who find themselves unable to stop playing.
Professor Tuney’s research is likely to be used by gambling charities, who – for a long time – have told the government and regulators that more must be done in order to help protect vulnerable players. What steps could be brought in to curb problem gambling on mobile devices, remains to be seen however. Tuney’s study is far from being the only mobile-specific study either.
The National Centre of Problem Gambling has also carried out a study into problem gambling from mobile devices, and the study found that 762 people in the UK received help from the NHS solely for gambling problems which arose from playing on their mobile devices. This is a worry for the charities, and one of the main reasons behind this worry, is that being able to gamble on mobile devices basically means it can be done anywhere, at any time.
Still, Professor Tuney’s study – which was published recently in the European Addiction Research Journal – has highlighted a worrying trend, which focuses more on the rate at which gamblers gamble. The study concluded:
“Whereas it has been shown that the primary risk of internet gambling is to people already addicted to gambling, mobile gambling’s behavioral profile suggests a risk towards a wider proportion of the population.”