Behavioral complexity of British gambling advertising



Newall PWS (2017) Behavioral complexity of British gambling advertising. Addiction Research and Theory, 25 (6), pp. 505-511.

Background: The scale and complexity of British gambling advertising has increased in recent years. ‘Live-odds’ TV gambling adverts broadcast the odds on very specific, complex, gambles during sporting events (e.g. in soccer, ‘Wayne Rooney to score the first goal, 5-to-1,’ or, ‘Chelsea to win 2-1, 10-to-1’). These gambles were analyzed from a behavioral scientific perspective (the intersection of economics and psychology).  Method: A mixed methods design combining observational and experimental data. A content analysis showed that live-odds adverts from two months of televised English Premier League matches were biased towards complex, rather than simple, gambles. Complex gambles were also associated with high bookmaker profit margins. A series of experiments then quantified the rationality of participants’ forecasts across key gambles from the content analysis (TotalN = 1467 participants across five Experiments).  Results: Soccer fans rarely formed rational probability judgments for the complex events dominating gambling advertising, but were much better at estimating simple events.  Conclusions: British gambling advertising is concentrated on the complex products that mislead consumers the most. Behavioral scientific findings are relevant to the active public debate about gambling.

Sports betting; in-play gambling; television advertising; behavioral science; behavioral science of gambling; economics; psychology

Addiction Research and Theory: Volume 25, Issue 6

Publication date31/12/2017
Publication date online24/01/2017
Date accepted by journal24/01/2017
PublisherTaylor and Francis