The Effect of Mandatory Play Breaks on Subsequent Gambling Behavior Among Norwegian Online Sports Betting, Slots and Bingo Players: A Large-scale Real World Study

In order to protect gamblers, gambling operators have introduced a wide range of responsible gambling (RG) tools. Mandatory play breaks (i.e., forced termination of a gambling session) and personalized feedback about the gambling expenditure are two RG tools that are frequently used. While the motivation behind mandatory play breaks is simple (i.e., gambling operators expect gamblers to reduce their gambling significantly as a result of an enforced break in play), empirical evidence supporting the efficacy of the mandatory breaks is still limited. The present study comprised a real-world experiment with the clientele of Norwegian gambling operator Norsk Tipping. On the Norsk Tipping gambling website, which offers slots, bingo and sports-betting, forced termination occurs if gamblers have played continuously for a one-hour period. The study tested the effect of different lengths of mandatory play breaks (90 s, 5 min, 15 min) on subsequent gambling behavior, as well as the effect of combined personalized feedback concerning money wagered, won, and net win/loss. In total 21,129 online players (61% male; mean age = 47.4 years) experienced at least one play break between April 17 and May 21 (2020) with 156,989 mandatory play breaks in total. Results indicated that a 15-min mandatory play break led to a disproportionately longer voluntary play pause compared to 5-min and 90-s mandatory play breaks. Personalized feedback appeared to have no additional effect on subsequent gambling and none of the mandatory play breaks appeared to affect the increase or decrease in money wagered once players started to gamble again.

Keywords: Forced session termination; Gambling; Mandatory play breaks; Problem gambling; Responsible gambling; Responsible gambling tools.



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