A report published by a leading UK authority on gambling harm has suggested a full review of gambling rules in the area of fast-speed and lower stakes gambling.
The study, which was published by Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was led by the Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the School of Social Sciences, Dr Andrew Harris.
The main finding of the study was that gambling at high speed serves to lower self-control among players. Speed of play has clearly been shown to be a factor in rates of problem gambling. The research team recruited 50 gamblers classified as ‘non-problem’ gamblers in the Lincolnshire region of the country. The gamblers were then allowed to gamble with real money using a simulated slot machine that was run at five different speeds.
Participants were given the task of withholding responses when a specific colour cue was displayed. While playing at the faster speeds, participants were found to be unable to respond to colour cues, which suggests that players were more impulsive during faster play.
Speaking about the findings, Dr Harris said that they reinforced the theory that playing at faster speeds increased negative outcomes, including bigger losses and more difficult ending the game, and that they highlighted the importance of giving gamblers an opportunity to take stock while gambling:
“Consequently, less opportunity for reflection is afforded by high event frequency games and as such are increasingly likely to lead to poorly adapted behaviour leading to problem gambling in some individuals.”
When they were sked to measure their own levels of control, players perceived themselves as having exercised a high degree of control, despite the findings. Harris pointed out that these results have implications in terms of gambling law and the protection of players. He highlighted that recent reforms have focused on the maximum stake for betting, but that more account should be taken of lower stakes faster speed gambling games. He added that although gamblers may find they enjoy slower speed games less, this would be offset by the fact that they would be able to play for longer periods.
He also suggested concrete measures that could be introduced to reduce the negative impact of faster gaming including giving more prominence to time displays and the amount of money that has already been spent during a particular gaming session.
The report is sure to be studied closely, both by industry figures and politicians, at a time when the UK government has indicated that it will be taking a closer look at the existing legal gambling framework.