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Csr Uk Online Gambling

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Are the current corporate social responsibility policies employed by online gambling companies proportional to the psychological impact the industry has on its consumers? A critical review of the UK online gambling industry.

Andrew Macdonald March 2013

MA (Soc) Business and Management University of Glasgow



1 Introduction.....................................................................................................3 2 Literature Review............................................................................................5 Introduction and Definitions.................................................................................5 Justification of Research.....................................................................................8 CSR within Online Gambling.............................................................................10 Psychological Aspects of Online Gambling........................................................13 3 Methods.........................................................................................................19 4 Findings.........................................................................................................25 Survey Results...................................................................................................25 CSR Policies......................................................................................................30 Socially Irresponsible Practices.........................................................................32 5 Discussion.....................................................................................................34 6 Implications...................................................................................................42 7 Conclusion....................................................................................................44 Limitations..........................................................................................................45 8 References.....................................................................................................46 9 Appendices....................................................................................................56



The gambling industry is experiencing rapid growth, aided immensely by the continued expansion of the internet. The dynamic of the industry is changing, and so are its consumers. No longer restricted to gaming halls, betting shops or casinos, the activity of gambling is now hugely accessible and this is reflected by the way in which the industry continues to grow at a startling rate.

However the industry, by it’s very nature, has always been considered controversial due to it’s association with negative social effects (Grinols, 2004). The introduction of the online gambling industry has been linked with escalating these effects (Anandarajan & Simmers, 2003), with the most significant of these being psychological harm to individuals (Soriano, Javed and Yousafzai, 2012). Whilst gambling itself does not necessarily cause psychological damage to players, it is the act of ‘problem gambling’ which does. Research has shown that people that gamble online are far more likely to be problem gamblers than those who do offline (Griffiths and Barnes, 2008; Ladd and Petry, 2002; Internet Gambling Breeds Addiction, 2002 ). In the United Kingdom alone, the number of people that gamble to the extent of being considered problem gamblers has been calculated to be between 236,500 and 284,000 (National Centre for Social Research, 2007), whilst it was recently estimated that number of potential problem gamblers is now close to one million (Gallagher, 2013).

Thus gambling behaviour in the United Kingdom represents a social problem. This is therefore relevant to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which is

considered one of the most vital world issues to have developed in the 21st century (Horrigan, 2010, p.3). Typically, the CSR of a company is heavily observed and scrutinized by both the media and the general public (Ihlen, Bartlett & May, 2011).

But as CSR becomes an increasingly prominent issue within business, has there been enough focus on the CSR issues associated with online gambling companies, and are the strategies implemented adequate given the psychological impact the industry has? It has been noted that online gambling has received minimal attention in the form of public debate (Anandarajan & Simmers, 2003, p. 157). So have online gambling companies slipped under the radar of CSR debates due to their nature?

The overall aim of this project is to critically evaluate the how proportional of the corporate social responsibility strategies implemented within the UK online gambling industry are, given the negative psychological effect the industry has on its consumers. This aim will be achieved by use of certain research objectives; the psychological impact of the UK online gambling industry will be explored, the CSR policies and potentially irresponsible practices employed within the industry will be be identified, whilst customers views and experiences with respect to CSR will also be established.



Introduction and Definitions Corporate Social Responsibility is renowned for being a difficult concept to define, with “hundreds if not thousands of attempts” (Mullerat, 2010, p. 14) being made to establish a widely accepted single definition. Considered to be one of the most popular of these attempts (Banerjee, 2007, p. 16) is McWilliams and Siegel’s (2001, p. 117) definition of CSR: “Actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interests of the firm and that which is required by law.”

This is a concise and basic definition, which effectively conveys the idea that CSR is utilized to achieve positive social impacts. The use of ‘appear’ implies that social good is not necessarily always achieved by CSR, but that the importance is the perception of social benefits being achieved. However, this definition fails to recognize the possibility that CSR may not act ‘beyond the interests’ of the company, and that in some instances may actually provide benefit to the company.

This is addressed by another widely referenced (Crowther and Aras, 2010, p. 58; Robinson, 2012, p. 37) definition, which refers to CSR as: “Societal expectations of corporate behaviour; a behaviour that is alleged by stakeholders to be expected by society or morally required and is therefore justifiably demanded of a business” (Whetten et al., 2002, p. 374). The reference to ‘societal expectations’ implies that external pressures exist to

influence a company’s behaviour. The view that expectations are ‘justifiably demanded’, conveys that the social pressure can be strong. The possibility that a negative social view could threaten the success of a company suggests it may therefore be in the company’s best interest to conform to these pressures, contrasting McWilliam’s and Siegel’s (2001) view.

CSR has also been defined by Carroll (1979, p. 500): "The social responsibility of business encompasses the economic, legal, ethical and discretionary expectations that a society has of organizations at a given point in time.” This definition contrasts McWilliams and Siegel’s (2001) comment that actions are “beyond...what is required by law”, by incorporating legal expectations within his description. He draws parallels with Whetten et al. (2002), by also referring to society’s expectations, although goes into further detail to describe what those expectations involve. The use of ‘discretionary’ helps us identify that these expectations can change and are not fixed, leaving Carroll’s (1979) definition open.

The commonalities between these definitions allow us to establish that CSR is simply the attempt made by companies to meet expectations of the public, or for their business to be perceived to have a positive effect on society. But are these expectations being met by UK online gambling companies?

Problem gambling, also referred to as “‘pathological’, ‘compulsive’, ‘disordered’ or ‘excessive’” (Soriano et al., 2012), is a concept which has a relatively consistent and widely accepted definition. Many authors and organizations (Collins, 2003, 137; Freeman & Goodenough, 2009, 83; Gambling Commission,

2007) have referenced Leisieur and Rosenthal (1991, p. 7), who describe problem gambling as “...gambling to a degree that it compromises, disrupts or damages family, personal or recreational pursuits.” In other words, problem gambling is the situation where one’s gambling activity is to the extent that it negatively affects themselves and/or people around them. This definition helps establish that problem gambling is excessive participation in the activity of gambling, and simply results in ‘problems’. The use of ‘pursuits’, however, is vague and doesn’t cast light on any specific outcomes or symptoms of problem gambling. This has been addressed by Volberg, Nysse-Carris & Gerstein (2006, p. 4), who define pathological gambling as “a treatable mental disorder characterized by loss of control over gambling, chasing of losses, lies and deception, family and job disruption, financial bailouts and illegal acts”. This definition strongly covers the potential symptoms or behaviours exerted by problem gamblers, and also enlightens us to the idea that pathological gambling is a psychological condition.

Henderson (2001, p. 155) describes three stages of pathological gambling; the first stage is where the gambler wins money, and also increases in self-esteem. At the second stage the gambler loses, and feels “insulted” by this loss of money. This can lead to the third, or ‘desperation stage’ where the gamblers becomes totally preoccupied with gambling and suffers from “serious psychological consequences”. Henderson (2001, p. 156) considers suicides to be common during the final stage, fully encapsulating the potentially damaging nature of problem gambling.


Justification of Research So why should the CSR policies within the UK online gambling industry be scrutinized? The importance of reviewing the subject of CSR in the gambling industry has been described by Jones, Hillier & Comfort (2007, p. 189), who recognize the growing pressure to modernize gambling regulation, citing a clear change in gambling attitudes and habits following the rise of the internet. McBride and Derevensky (2009) have also called for gambling sites to increase their CSR policies to help those who suffer from problem gambling. Internet gambling represents a “cause for concern”, according to Griffiths, Wardle, Orford, Sproston & Erans (2010, p. 20) due to the “low levels of social responsibility” that online gambling companies have demonstrated.

Various authors have cited the lack of attention both online gambling as a whole, and in particular CSR within the online gambling industry, have received. Anandarajan & Simmers (2003) have argued that online gambling issues have received a lack of attention. Soriano et al. (2012) conclude that little research has been done on the corporate social responsibility of online gambling, whilst Jones, Hiller & Comfort (2007, p. 189) have identified that CSR within the UK online gambling industry in particular has received limited attention. Wood and Williams (2009) describe how there is a lack of studies related to online problem gambling. Of the studies that have been conducted, many have been funded by the gambling industry, leaving debate over the “academic independence” and therefore the validity of the results (Griffiths, 2009, p. 29). Thus the CSR of UK online gambling companies represents a relatively unexplored area of research, leaving a gap in literature which this study aims to fill.


But why should the policies be critiqued with respect to the psychological effects of gambling? Psychology is “the scientific study or behaviour and mental processes” (Hilgard, Atkinson & Atkinson, 1975, p. 7). Thus the psychology of gambling refers to the effects that an individual experiences, both in the mind and in their actions, that occur as a result of gambling. Many of the symptoms and negative effects of problem gambling are therefore psychological. The act of problem gambling in itself represents a negative psychological impact of gambling, with Costello (2009) referring to it as a “ psychological condition”. With regards to the effects of online gambling, Henderson (2001, p. 156) feels that pathological gambling is “under recognized and under treated”. McBride and Derevensky (2009, p. 162) describe a “disturbing and difficult relationship between the Internet and those with gambling problems”. In a study of the prevalence of online problem gambling, Wood and Williams (2007, p. 530) found that 42.7 percent of online gamblers could be considered problem gamblers. Soriano et al. (2012) studied the gambling experiences of university students, and found ‘psychological distress’ to be be the most significant problem experienced by gamblers. As psychological harm to individuals represents the most prominent social effect caused by online gambling (Soriano et al., 2012), it is appropriate to gauge the effectiveness of CSR policies against this. Soriano et al. (2012) also claim to be the first research study to analyze psychological distress in the context of online gambling. Thus a critique of the current CSR policies of UK online gambling companies with respect to the psychological impact of problem gambling will be the first of it’s kind.


CSR within Online Gambling Evidently businesses need to make profits to survive. Friedman (1970) claimed that the only responsibility a business has is to increase its profits. Resources need to be allocated for the implementation of CSR policies, thus Corporate Social Responsibility has long been associated with conflicting interests between social effects and profits. This conflict is particularly evident within the gambling industry, where governments have been slow to implement legislation due to the large profits and subsequent tax revenue the industry generates (Hancock, Schellinck and Schrans, 2008, p. 66). In recent years, more resources have been allocated to CSR, (Barnea & Rubin, 2005, p. 1) as companies recognize the benefits that can be derived from CSR activity.

Within the controversial industry sector, a category gambling falls into, a positive correlation has been established between a firm’s value and their CSR practices (Cai, Jo & Pan, 2012, p. 467). There has also been research that has concluded that poor performance on a social level can harm a company’s finances (Margolis and Walsh, 2003, p. 268). Griffiths (2010, p. 36) suggests that trust, which can be gained by use of CSR policies, is vital in online business. Without trust, the “spending of money is unlikely”. Thus it appears that CSR can potentially help a company achieve growth as well as benefit society in general. This view is mirrored by Soriano at al. (2012) who describe a ‘win-win’ situation occurring as the company, its customers and its stakeholders all benefit from CSR.

Whilst research on the CSR of online gambling companies is limited, the studies which exist suggest that the current policies are ineffective (Matthews et al.

2009; Schoen et al. 2007; Smith and Rupp 2005). One documented criticism is that the usage of the implemented CSR policies is low. Griffiths et al. (2009) critiqued the CSR of online gambling companies after finding that only 25% of online gamblers use the CSR tools offered by gambling sites. Jones et al. (2007, p. 190) conclude that CSR policies within the UK gambling industry are reported too vaguely by the companies, and contain limited information regarding how these policies are implemented, or to what extent they are effective. A lack of information regarding the effectiveness of their policies will naturally lead to skepticism over the results or outcomes that have occurred following these policies being implemented.

The extent to which online gambling revenues come from problem gamblers is another factor which has been used to critique CSR policies within studies. Research on this in the UK is limited, but it has been calculated that 33% of gambling revenues in Australia come from problem gamblers (Williams and Wood, 2004, p. 35) whilst the figure is 35% in Canada (Andresen, 2006). Hancock, Schellinck and Schrans (2008, p. 56) state simply that problem gamblers contribute ‘disproportionately’ to industry revenues.

As well as the documented policies, CSR issues will also have to take into account current features implemented within sites, to deduce whether the company’s practices are socially responsible. Littler and Fijnaut (2007, p. 70) describe one of the main problems linked with gambling as the “exploitation of human weakness”. This must be therefore be studied with respect to how the companies are implementing features that possibly exploit psychological vulnerabilities.

One such feature was researched by Sevigny, Cloutier, Pelletier & Ladouceur (2005), as they analyzed the ‘demo’ or ‘free play’ features which are implemented by many online gambling sites. This involves players having the opportunity to play gambling games for free, before deciding whether to later play the game for real money. The research concluded that it was more likely to win whilst playing on practice modes than when playing for real money. This potentially misleads players by convincing them they can win money, and could therefore be considered a form of psychological exploitation of the consumer. This research study will therefore attempt to establish the extent to which these features are in place, and the customer experiences of them.

Another potential CSR issue is identified by Griffiths and Whitty (2010, p. 107), who explain that many online gambling websites now use “sophisticated software” to track the behaviour of gamblers, but remark this could be used to exploit consumers. The information gathered is used to target customers for offers and promotions, with some companies considered to be attempting to entice problem gamblers with the use of ‘free bets’ (Griffiths and Parke, 2002, p. 315). This research study will therefore attempt to deduce the extent to which consumers receive promotions and offers through direct communication.

Other behaviour tracking tools have also been developed, but with the intention of increasing social responsibility (Griffiths & Whitty, 2010, p. 106). Examples of these include ‘Playscan’ and ‘Observer’ (Griffiths, Wood & Parke, 2009, p. 413); systems implemented into online gambling sites which the developers claim can detect problem gambling behaviour. Griffiths et al. (2009) found high levels of

consumer loyalty towards a gambling company based in Sweden who implemented Playscan. Gambling operators have strongly recommended that online companies use this technology (Griffiths et al., 2009), although the use of these is currently optional to online gambling sites (Griffiths & Whitty, 2010, p. 106).

Commonly utilized CSR policies within the UK online gambling industry have been referenced, such as self-exclusion facilities and deposit limits (Soriano et al., 2012; Pratten and Walton, 2009, Euromat, 2009), along with training of staff in CSR (Pratten & Walton, 2009; Euromat, 2009). Thus this research will attempt to establish the effectiveness of these policies, along with identifying and critiquing other policies that may be in place. These studies have identified broadly the industry CSR policies, with reference to current legislation in place. However, this research study will explore the individual policies of each company to develop an accurate picture of the CSR policies within the UK online gambling industry.

Psychological Aspects of Online Gambling The negative psychological impacts of problem gambling can be vast, however identification of an online problem gambler is possible as problem gamblers tend to display common behaviours and symptoms. Svetieva and Walker (2008, p. 161) argue that “problem gambling must be measured by the number and extent of the problems caused by gambling, not whether or not the gambling behaviour has the characteristics of addiction or any other individual psychopathology.” Thus an examination of an individual’s personal characteristics or psychology is not relevant for detecting problem gambling.

Research can therefore solely examine their gambling activity, their symptoms, or the potential problems caused by their gambling activity, to deduce the extent to which someone is a problem gambler.

Griffiths and Whitty (2010, p. 112), consider ‘chasing losses’ to be the most prominent online gambling behaviour of a problem gambler. This refers to the act of “betting more in order to cover losses” (Henderson, 2001, p. 155). Chasing losses has also been identified by Williams, Wood and Parke (2012, p. 234), who mirror Griffiths and Whitty’s (2010) suggestion that it is the largest and most obvious indicator of an online problem gambler. They also conclude that whilst others may engage in this behaviour occasionally, the online problem gambler will display evidence of chasing losses often and with regularity.

Henderson (2001, p. 155) references chasing losses in his three stages framework of problem gambling. Chasing losses occurs during the second stage, where the gambler will take risks with money they can’t necessarily afford. As previously established, the “desperation stage” follows the second stage, where the gambler becomes totally preoccupied with gambling and suffers from “serious psychological consequences”. As suicides were considered to be ‘common’ at the final stage, this emphasizes the dangerous and harmful nature of chasing losses. The research of Griffiths and Whitty (2010) also concludes that chasing losses represents the most detectable online gambling behaviour of players, making it realistic to expect online gambling companies to be able to detect and deter players who are displaying this behaviour.


The second most detectable behaviour that signals a problem gambler, according to Griffiths and Whitty (2010), is preoccupation with gambling. Ladouceur, Boisvert, Pepin, Loranger and Sylvain (1994) studied the effect of problem gambling on work, and found that overall performance of problem gamblers at work is reduced. The main psychological impact on work productivity was considered to be preoccupation with gambling. Contrary to other studies, Ladouceur et al. (1994, p. 405) only identified one main psychological impact. As this was specifically studied with relation to the work environment, this perhaps demonstrates that preoccupation represents one of the most identifiable symptoms in one’s daily life. Lesieur (1979) conducted a similar study, by identifying the relationship between problem gambling and employment potential. It was found that a problem gambler’s employment prospects were reduced due to their gambling activity, with excessive preoccupation concluded to be the main cause. The potential impact on both current and future employment suggests that preoccupation represents a relatively damaging impact of problem gambling.

The thrill of risk is another important psychological aspect of problem gambling. Gainsbury (2012, p. 88) concludes that 60% of problem gamblers experience a feel of “thrill and rush” as they play. Many problem gamblers have also experienced feelings of guilt and shame as a result of their gambling behaviour, with this usually occurring due to financial loss (Yi and Kanetkar, 2011, p. 1). It was found that irrespective of the amount lost, that a problem gambler was more likely than a ‘low-risk’ gambler to experience ‘intense shame’ after loss.


In a study of the difficulties of living with a pathological gambler, stress and stress related disorders were found to be common amongst pathological gamblers (Lorenz & Yaffee,1988). The importance of stress as an impact of problem gambling has been emphasized by Blaszczynski et al. (1997), who found that stress leads to substance abuse and depression when induced by gambling. Griffiths, Scarfe and Bellringer (1999) analyzed phone calls made to the UK national gambling helpline. Of the reported health consequences found among problem gamblers; depression, anxiety and stress disorders were found to be the most prevalent. Griffiths (2004) also studied the health consequences of problem gambling, finding that these included depression, stress disorders and insomnia.

Griffiths et al. (1999) also noted that some gamblers mentioned suicidal thoughts during their analysis of the National Gambling Helpline’s phone calls. Dickerson (1990) and Blaszczynski and Farrell (1998) have both concluded that problem gambling is associated with depression and suicide attempts more than the general population. Ladouceur, Dubé and Bujold (1994) found similar results when evaluating college students, with 27% of pathological gamblers having attempted suicide, compared with 7% of non gamblers.

Studies on withdrawal from gambling have also identified behaviours and symptoms of problem gambling. The most common symptoms found in individuals who stopped gambling were discussed by Orford (2005); based on studies by Wray and Dickerson (1981), Lesieur and Rosenthal (1992) and Orford, Morison and Somers (1996). It was found that the most prominent symptoms included “restlessness, irritability, depressed mood, insomnia and

headaches.” Thus stress-related symptoms also exist in this instance. Orford (2005, p. 16) suggests that these symptoms did not occur a a result of stopping gambling, but were more likely to be related to recent experiences with gambling, thus making these appropriate and relevant psychological symptoms to associate with problem gambling.

Whilst studies on the psychological impacts of online gambling have been limited, Wardle et al. (2010) created the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey in an attempt to establish the extent of problem gambling within the UK. The framework used to assess this was the DSM-IV, which represents the “most widely accepted standard for pathological gambling diagnosis” (Thompson, 2001, p. 134). This involved gamblers being questioned about whether they have experienced any of ten identified problem gambling symptoms in the previous 12 months. Participants were given a score based on responses, with the scores representing likelihood of problem gambling. The questions contained within the DSM-IV links closely to the previously analyzed literature reviewing the possible psychological symptoms of problem gambling.

Relatively consistent with previous acknowledgments, chasing losses was one of the most prominent experiences noted with 2.1% of gamblers experiencing it in the past 12 months. Only preoccupation with gambling (with 2.5%) scored higher, which draws parallels with Ladouceur et al’s (1994) study which emphasized the importance of preoccupation as a psychological impact. The study concluded that 1.7% of males and 0.3% of females suffered from problem gambling. This study was an all-compassing UK gambling research, meaning that it included all forms of gambling, from betting shop gambling to lottery

tickets. As identified from Griffiths et al. (2008) and Ladd at al (2002), internet gamblers are far more likely to suffer from problem gambling. Thus this study, by reason that it only focuses on internet gamblers, is expected to involve a higher rate of problem gamblers than the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey.

A further psychological aspect used to explain online problem gambling is described by Griffiths and Parke (2002, p. 313) who identify have the importance of the use of ‘e-cash’. It is explained that a gambler’s value system is disrupted online. Whilst the nature of online play means that e-cash is an inevitability, it should be established whether or not online gambling companies are promoting further the ‘disruption’ of a gamblers value system, by investigating the ways in which gamblers are able to deposit and spend money. Therefore this must be also be focused on in the study of the CSR policies.



The methods used are consistent for establishing the overall aim, which was broken down to the following objectives:

1. To explore the negative psychological impact of the UK online gambling industry. 2. To identify the CSR policies implemented by the major companies within the UK online gambling industry. 3. To examine online gambling practices which may be considered socially irresponsible with respect to the studied negative psychological aspects. 4. To establish consumer online gambling experiences with respect to the current features in place. 5. To assess consumer views on the methods of gambling firms to regulate and control problem gambling.

The research philosophy was inductive, and used a mixed methods approach. The psychological impacts, along with customer views and experiences, were measured empirically. The CSR policies were assessed qualitatively. The benefit of this was that an accurate as possible representation of the gambling public could be established after gaining a large response rate, which would be measured empirically. The study of the current policies only required a view of 12 of the leading companies, thus qualitative data would be more appropriate to describe the policies in question. The policies were also linked to the

psychological impacts found in the literature review, therefore qualitative data was more appropriate to produce a critical study of the current regulations in place.

Qualitative information was found from online gambling sites to establish objectives 2 and 3; by finding what the current CSR policies involve, and what practices were in place that could be considered socially irresponsible.

The CSR policies were found from the responsible gaming sections of the websites of the UK’s online betting market leaders; Paddy Power, William Hill, Bet365, Betfair, Ladbrokes, PokerStars, BwinParty, Gamesys, 888, Blue Square and Gala Coral (European Regulated Online Markets, 2012). In total, these 12 companies command a market share in the UK of 84.5%. Thus an evaluation of these companies gives a fair and representative study of the UK online gambling industry. Each CSR policy implemented by the companies was recorded. The potentially socially irresponsible practices with respect to psychological harm were also noted.

Quantitative data was used for research objectives 1, 4 and 5, as an online survey was conducted. This measured empirically the extent to which the negative psychological impacts, as found from the literature review, were experienced by individual consumers. The survey was also used to measure customer’s experiences with, and opinions on, the current CSR regulations. The survey attracted a response number of 181. The survey was distributed amongst popular and widely read online gambling forums to target responses from users of online gambling sites, and ran over a period of 2 months.

Naturally, the internet represents an appropriate place to locate those who participate in online gambling. Wood and Griffiths (2007) cite the accessibility of the internet to online gamblers, as well as their proficiency with using the internet, as reasons for the internet being an appropriate place to research online gambling.

Participants were asked about their usage of certain CSR policies, with the policies in question related to the commonly reference policies found from the literature review. This was to help gauge empirically the extent to which the current regulations are being used by gamblers. This was then assessed against the prevalence of psychological harm, to determine how proportional the current CSR regulations are. The questions asked in this section are displayed in Appendix 1.

Gamblers were also asked about experiences with reference to other potentially socially irresponsible practices as found from the reviewed literature. This was to help establish the extent to which customer details were being held by gambling sites, and whether they could potentially be targeting problem gamblers with promotions. This was also used to establish how effective the free-play features were at convincing customers to play for real money. Related to this is the use of ‘e-cash’. The effect of this was also questioned, to determine how influential gambling practices which promote the ease of spending are. The questions from this part of the survey are displayed in Appendix 2.


As corporate social responsibility is related to the ‘expectations of society’ (Carroll and Buchholtz, 2009), it is appropriate to gauge the gambling public’s views on the current regulations. To achieve this, a Likert scale was created, with participants asked to give their opinions on the effectiveness of commonly referenced CSR policies found from the literature review. The results are displayed in table 3 of the findings. Their opinions of the gambling industry in general were also assessed with a Likert scale; asking consumers to what extent they agree with selected statements on CSR policies. These statements are displayed in appendix 3. They are also shown Table 4 of the findings along with the results. This was intended to establish how consumers view the overall CSR issues studied.

To establish the psychological impact of the UK online gambling industry, the symptoms and behaviours related to problem gambling found from the literature review were identified, with participants asked to what extent they had experienced them. This was done by use of a Likert Scale, with the frequency options ranging from ‘Never’ as 1 and ‘Always’ as 5.

Previously popular frameworks used to analyze problem gambling were studied in an attempt to deduce the extent to which the psychological impacts effect the UK online gambling consumers. The most suitable found was the aforementioned DSM-IV, along with the PSGI, which is similar as it asks questions based on common problem gambling behaviours, but used a continuous scoring system, unlike the dichotomous system used by the DSM-IV (Wardle et al., 2010).


This research framework questioning is modeled on the DSM-IV. Similarly to the DSM-IV, included in the questions are 10 common experiences associated with problem gambling. However, non-psychological experiences were removed and replaced with commonly referenced psychological experiences as found from the reviewed literature. It is appropriate to modify the DSM-IV and use it as a template, as problem gambling prevalence is not being measured. Each of the experiences as found from the literature review represents a widely referenced psychological effect and thus like the DSM-IV, the prevalence of psychological harm was based on the number of experiences suffered.

As Griffiths and Whitty (2010) suggest, the behaviour and symptoms of a problem gambler are experienced frequently and with great regularity, in contrast to a controlled gambler who may experience the behaviours, but only rarely or infrequently. A person experiencing symptoms of problem gambling therefore is not necessarily a problem gambler. In line with Griffiths and Whitty’s (2010) analysis, it is proposed in this study that ‘Never’ and ‘Rarely’ will represent a controlled or non-risk gambler. Responses ‘Sometimes’, ‘Often’ or ‘Always’ will represent potentially at-risk or problem gamblers, depending on the prevalence of other symptoms.

Thus the scoring for each coded item was as follows:

• Score 0 for Never or Rarely • Score 1 for Sometimes • Score 2 for Often • Score 3 for Always

Therefore the score can range from 0 to 30.

The PSGI classifies a score of 0 to be a non-problem gambler, 1-2 to be low risk, 3-7 to be a moderate-risk gambler and 8+ a problem gambler. (Wardle et al., 2010) As problem gambling refers the stages where a gambler’s activity causes ‘harm’, the criteria established was that 8+ refers to a gambler who has experienced a high level of psychological harm. The scoring system is therefore classified in the Table A as follows:

Table A: Scoring System Score 0 1-3 4-7 8+ Classification Category No psychological harm experienced Low psychological harm experienced Moderate psychological harm experienced High psychological harm experienced

The results for the overall participant scores is displayed in Table 1 of the findings. Table 2a represents results for the individual psychological experiences, with respect to the mean, standard deviation and percentage for each respective option. Table 2b filters out those who have accessed the CSR section of a UK gambling site.



Survey Results

The survey showed that 84.75% of participants had never accessed the CSR section of a UK online gambling site. This is significant as these sections contain information regarding the CSR policies and how to implement the offered CSR tools. This is related to the finding which showed that 60% of gamblers were unaware of any measures taken by companies to regulate or control excessive or harmful gambling.

With regards to the usage of selected CSR policies, 98.2% of gamblers never been contacted directly by gambling support staff whilst playing online. 9.45% of respondents have used a self-exclusion facility, whilst 14.32% had used a deposit limit feature. The usage of these CSR policies will be assessed against the psychological impacts found in the next section of the findings to assess the significance of these results. This will be in the discussion chapter.

Customers were also questioned over the direct contact they had received in the form of promotions from gambling sites. 90.96% had been contacted directly by online gambling companies with promotions, either by text, e-mail or telephone. 72.67% of these promotions came from websites they either don’t or no longer use. The importance of this finding is that a large number of nonusers or former gamblers are being exposed to offers or promotions. This also shows that a significant amount of customer information is stored.

Participants were also asked about their experiences with ‘free play’ or ‘practice‘ features. It was found that 65.44% of respondents had used this type of feature, with this leading to 78.63% of customers later playing the game for real money. This shows that this feature has a high success rate at convincing players to gamble with real money.

The psychological effect of ‘e-cash’ was also asked, with 79.55% of gamblers finding it easier to spend money online than with ‘real’ cash, therefore confirming that a psychological effect exists that influences users to spend more money than usual on the internet.

Table 1 displays the percentage distribution of participant scores on the constructed psychological scale. The negative psychological impacts were coded, and as the scoring for each coded item was 1-3 depending on frequency of experienced impact, it shows that the vast majority of gamblers (91.7%) have experienced some form of negative psychological effect as a result of gambling online.

The significance of these results is that the psychological scoring of participants classifies 23.2% of gamblers as having experienced high psychological harm due to their online gambling activity. This is due to this percentage gaining a score of 8 or greater. 31.5% have experienced a moderate degree of psychological symptoms and are considered to be at-risk of experiencing high psychological harm. 44.7% have experienced low or zero harm.


Table 1: Psychological impact - Participant Scores Score Participants (%) Score Participants (%) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 8.3 20.4 16.0 9.9 9.4 5.0 4.4 2.8 5.0 3.9 3.3 2.7 1.1 2.2 1.7 0.55 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Total 1.7 0 0.55 0 0 0 1.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 100

Table 2 breaks down the scores into the individual psychological effects experienced with respect to the mean, standard deviation and percentage distribution of each option. 1 represents ‘Never’ and 5 ‘Always’. Therefore the most common psychological experience of gamblers was chasing losses. Following from Griffiths and Whitty (2010), who considers those that frequently experience chasing losses to be problem gamblers; 27.85% of gamblers have thus demonstrated that they could be considered problem gamblers.


Table 2a: Psychological impact of UK online gambling industry Psychological Experience Chasing losses Restlessness or irritability Disruption to your sleep routine Feeling stressed Feelings of guilt over losses Thrill of risking money Anxiety Preoccupation with gambling Depression Suicidal thoughts Mean 2.80 2.36 1.69 2.12 2.53 2.79 2.05 1.94 1.49 1.15 σ 1.08 1.16 1.05 1.15 1.22 1.27 1.14 1.13 0.98 0.67 1 (%) 13.07 28.47 62.50 39.55 25.71 22.73 42.37 49.15 75.71 92.61 2 (%) 26.14 28.16 15.91 25.42 24.00 15.34 26.55 23.16 9.60 2.84 3 (%) 32.95 25.86 13.07 21.47 28.57 31.82 18.08 15.25 6.78 2.84 4 (%) 23.30 12.64 6.82 10.17 14.86 20.45 9.60 9.60 6.21 0.00 5 (%) 4.55 4.60 1.70 3.39 6.86 9.66 3.39 2.82 1.69 1.70

Table 2b has shows table 2a after filtering out respondents who answered ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Have you ever accessed the ‘CSR’ or ‘Responsible Gaming’ section of any UK online gambling site?’. This was to gauge whether the psychological effects were different for those who have not accessed or utilized the CSR policies. By comparing table 2b to table 2a, it is evident that the psychological effects are lower for those who have never accessed the CSR section of a gambling site, by way of the mean of each experience being lower.

Table 2b: Psychological impact of UK online gambling industry (excluding gamblers who have accessed the Corporate Social Responsibility section of a gambling site) Psychological Experience Mean σ 1 (%) 2 (%) 3 (%) 4 (%) 5 (%) Chasing losses 2.71 1.12 15.77 26.17 32.90 21.13 4.02 Restlessness or irritability 2.03 1.21 32.21 26.50 25.50 11.74 4.02 Disruption to your sleep routine 1.64 1.01 65.1 14.77 12.75 6.04 1.34 Feeling stressed 2.05 1.07 43.62 23.49 20.81 8.72 3.36 Feelings of guilt over losses 2.44 1.20 27.82 26.43 25.52 14.22 6.01 Thrill of risking money 2.73 1.38 24.42 16.11 31.01 19.48 8.98 Anxiety 2.01 1.11 43.17 27.06 17.98 9.00 2.79 Preoccupation with gambling 1.87 1.06 50.17 24.76 14.82 8.83 1.42 Depression 1.47 0.96 75.97 9.65 6.84 6.17 1.39 Suicidal thoughts 1.13 0.43 95.24 2.72 1.36 0.00 0.68


Table 3 shows consumers views on the effectiveness of the CSR policies that were commonly reported from the literature review. 1 represents ‘Very ineffective’, whilst 5 represents ‘Very effective’. Thus gambling consumers view trained online support staff as the most effective of the CSR policies asked. This also has the highest percentage of ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’ responses, with 50% compared to 42.53% for both self exclusion and deposit limits.

Table 3: Customer views on effectiveness of selected CSR policies CSR Policy Mean σ 1 (%) 2 (%) 3 (%) 4 (%) Self-exclusion 2.93 1.20 15.52 21.14 17.82 37.36 Trained online support staff 3.09 1.26 14.77 21.59 13.64 40.34 3.02 1.23 16.67 16.09 24.71 33.91 Deposit limits

5 (%) 5.17 9.66 8.62

Table 4 addressed consumer opinions of CSR in the UK online gambling industry in general. The questioned numbers 1-3 related to the following questions. 1 represents ‘strongly agree’ and 5 ‘strongly disagree’.

To what extent do you agree that: 1. The psychological harm to individuals caused by online gambling is a significant social problem. 2. Online gambling companies have a responsibility to protect their players from the harmful psychological affects associated with problem gambling 3. Online gambling sites in the UK currently offer sufficient support to customers to counteract problem gambling.

Thus on average the gambling public view the psychological harm caused by the gambling industry as a significant social problem. Even more convincing

was the view that gambling companies have a responsibility to protect their players, however the gambling public don’t appear to support the idea that companies currently offer enough support to counter the negative effects of gambling.

Table 4: Customer opinions of CSR in UK online gambling industry

Question No. 1 2 3

Mean 3.37 3.72 2.68

σ 1.09 1.10 1.07

1(%) 2.84 2.84 16.48

2(%) 25.00 15.91 25.00

3(%) 18.75 12.50 35.80

4(%) 39.20 43.18 19.32

5(%) 14.20 25.57 3.41

CSR Policies of UK Online Gambling Companies The market leaders for betting activity in the UK online gambling industry are Paddy Power, William Hill, Bet365, Betfair, Ladbrokes, PokerStars, BwinParty, Gamesys, 888, Blue Square and Gala Coral, with a total market share of 84.5% (European Regulated Online Markets, 2012). Thus the CSR policies of each of these sites have all been analyzed, as well as potentially socially irresponsible practices they employ, with respect to psychological harm. The following results describe the customer-based CSR policies implemented by the sites, featuring all of the policies relevant to protecting problem gamblers.

Self-exclusion - This is a feature that operators must have in place, where the customer has the ability to request an exclusion from their website for a set period of time, typically for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 5 years (Gamble Aware, 2012). This facility was found to be in place on all twelve of the studied websites.


Deposit limits - This feature enables customers to set a maximum amount to deposit over a period of time, and was found to be in place on all twelve of the examined sites. On each of the examined sites, the deposit limit is self-imposed and once in place can be changed, which takes place after a 24 hour ‘cooling off’ period.

Problem Gambling Questionnaire - Seven of the twelve assessed sites (Bet365, Betfair, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Pokerstars, BwinParty and GalaCoral) carried a form of questionnaire in the CSR section of their website. This typically involved a serious of questions based on typical problem gambling behaviours being displayed in their CSR section. This came with a recommendation that customers to visit GamCare if they have experienced any of these common behaviours. BwinParty’s questionnaire slightly differed as they used a test developed by the WHO, which responded with a recommendation (such as “seek professional help”) of one’s next step, based on the severity of results.

Providing links to gambling help organizations - All twelve of the studied sites provided links to gambling support sites, such as GamCare, Gamblers Anonymous and Gamble Aware.

Providing information about problem gambling - Various forms of information regarding problem gambling have been offered on the some of the sites. Bet 365, Betfair, Gamesys, GalaCoral and Ladbrokes identify steps a customer should take to remain in control of their gambling, with a link to GamCare provided for further information.

Interaction with potentially at-risk customers - Paddy Power, William Hill, Gamesy and 888’s sites all claimed to have encouraged employees to communicate with customers who may be displaying behaviour that could signal gambling problems. On William Hill, identified problem gamblers will be provided with contact details for GamCare. Paddy Power’s staff are trained directly by GamCare to help reduce potentially harmful behaviour by customers.

Session Timers - Betfair and GalaCoral were the only two sites to offer this feature, which is a reminder to customers of the amount of time they have spent on game products within their site after every hour of play; this time reminder can be altered at the user’s discretion.

Self-Help Toolkit - This feature was only offered by BwinParty, and was developed by Harvard Medical School. This provides a questionnaire which returns a detailed analysis of a gambler’s traits, and provides assistance with developing strategies for the gambler to help control his gambling activity.

Socially Irresponsible Practices

Free play - All of the websites studied incorporated free-play versions of games. Through this feature customers were able to play games the site hosts for free, before deciding whether to play the game for real money.


Reverse Withdrawals - All websites implemented a reverse withdrawal feature. Through this feature the casino holds funds in a pending account, and a gambler is usually given up to 24 hours to ‘reverse’ the initial withdrawal of money from their account.

Direct communication - All of the assessed sites contacted users and former users via e-mail, text or telephone to promote offers.



Regardless of the specific policies, it is reasonable to suggest that information regarding the policies implemented is not accessible enough to the gambling customer - the CSR policies in question are each available through the website of every company, however the vast majority of participants (85%) had never visited the relevant sections. The majority of information regarding help for problem gamblers is only available through these sections. In some cases (William Hill, BwinParty, Blue Square, Gamesys) the CSR policies are featured separate from the main gambling site, and are instead located on a ‘corporate’ website. This suggests that a customer would have to actively seek information regarding the policies of UK online gambling companies. In the case of a problem gambler, this is completely unsuitable. This is due to the nature of a problem gambler - Suurvali, Hodgins, Toneatto & Cunningham (2008, p. 1343) concluded that only 6 percent of problem or pathological gamblers seek help for their gambling problems.

The accessibility of the CSR information can also be critiqued by use of the empirical data found in table 2b, with respect to the original results in table 2a. Table 2b shows the psychological impacts felt by the consumers who had never accessed the CSR section of a site before. After filtering out those who have accessed the CSR section from table 2a, each of the psychological experiences record a lower mean. This suggests that the higher the psychological harm experienced, the more likely a gambler is to attempt to find information, or in other words, seek help. The information is therefore available, and in demand

from gamblers experiencing psychological harm. However, the research as displayed in table 1 establishes that in total, 54.7% of gamblers have experienced either moderate or high psychological harm. Only 15% of this total have ever accessed the CSR information section, thus there is a wide number of online gamblers who are either oblivious to the prospect that their gambling is potentially causing them psychological harm, or are simply unaware that helpful information exists to control their gambling.

On studying the usage of policy features, only 2% of customers have been contacted directly by online support staff whilst playing online, whilst 9% have used self-exclusion, with 14% utilizing a deposit limit. Thus the usage of the specific CSR tools is low. These results are lower than the study by Griffiths et al. (2009), which identified that 25% of customers had used CSR tools. However Griffiths et al‘s (2009) study suggested this was a low figure and used it to critique the CSR policies. This study then suggests that the usage of CSR policies is worse than initially established, and therefore the policies implemented are even more widely open to criticism.

Table 1 demonstrates that 23% of gamblers are classified as having experienced high psychological damage as a result of their gambling activity. A further 32% have experienced a moderate degree of psychological harm. Previous research has found that pathological gamblers are more likely to experience psychological distress than controlled gamblers (Ibanez at al., 2001). Thus more than half of the assessed participants potentially are, or are at risk of becoming, pathological gamblers. For the CSR policies to be proportional to the psychological harm they cause, this paper suggests that the

usage of the policies must be at least equivalent to the proportion of harmed consumers. However, with 23% having experienced psychological harm, and only 9%, 2% and 14% of customers using three of the respective CSR tools, there is a large deficit between psychological impact and use of policies.

With respect to the individual psychological experiences, the results are consistent with previous research that suggest chasing losses is the most common behaviour experienced by gamblers (Griffiths and Whitty, 2010; Williams, Wood and Parke, 2012, p. 234). Chasing losses also represents the most detectable of all online problem gambling behaviours (Griffiths and Whitty, 2010, p. 112), and is the behaviour most likely to identify a problem gambler. The empirical research found shows that 28% of online gamblers chase losses either often or always, which, according to Griffiths and Whitty (2010), represents behaviour of a problem gambler. This is lower than Wood and Williams’ (2007) finding that 42% of student gamblers were problem gamblers, however the target sample was different and Wood and William’s main focus was problem gambling, thus is likely to be more accurate. The qualitative research of the CSR policies employed within the industry shows that clearest evidence of a policy that could counter chasing losses, is the implementation of deposit limits. Logically it can be assumed that if used correctly, a gambler won’t be able to ‘chase’ their losses if they have reached their spend limit. However, the empirical research shows that only 14% of online gamblers have ever implemented a deposit limit on their account. This is disproportionate to the amount of people experiencing behaviour that this feature appears to be in place to prevent.


Preoccupation with gambling represents another detectable online behaviour of a problem gambler (Griffiths and Whitty, 2010, p. 112). The only CSR policy found that can be aimed at reducing this impact was the use of Session Timers. This is due to the fact that preoccupation is linked with time spent gambling (Griffiths and Whitty, 2010, p. 112), and a session timer reminds a gambler of the time they’ve spend playing after each hour. This feature was only recorded to be in place on two of the assessed sites (Betfair and GalaCoral). Thus the behaviour of preoccupation is being neglected by the majority of sites within the industry, with only two websites hosting a feature to reduce the effect, and no websites implementing features to detect the effect.

Self exclusion is a widely utilized CSR policy, as it was found to be in implemented by each of the analyzed online gambling companies. This is due to the fact that the feature is mandatory for gambling operators in the UK (Gamble Aware, 2012). Ross (2012) analyzed self-exclusion as a policy in the UK gambling industry, and found that there were over 50% of ‘known breaches’ of self-exclusion by gamblers, citing the explanation that many gamblers would find another place to bet. Fallon (2008, p 356) suggests renders self-exclusion ‘almost useless’ due to this reason. This can be even more applicable to the online gambling industry, where there is a large number of operators available for a gambler to choose. The proportion of breaches suggest that self-exclusion has many limitations as a CSR policy, which has also been recognized by GamCare (Ross, 2012).

Four of the assessed sites implemented a form of problem gambling questionnaire, available through their CSR section. These involved questions

based on common symptoms associated with problem gambling and drew parallels with the DSM-IV. The close association with a problem gambling framework therefore establishes these questionnaires as legitimate and relevant for informing a gambler as to whether they have a problem. This relates to the prior point about accessibility of information - the information available is potentially helpful as it raises awareness of problems to gambler. However, this CSR policy falls short by way of the fact that only 15% of UK online gambling customers had ever accessed the relevant section to find the questionnaire. Thus the CSR policy, whilst potentially informative and helpful, remains disproportionate to countering the psychological impact caused by the industry.

Another common policy is the provision of links to problem gambling support sites, which customers rated as relatively ineffective. Four of the assessed CSR policies (William Hill, Paddy Power, 888 & Gamesys) reported that they had employed staff trained in CSR, who would take the initiative to interact with a customer they had felt was displaying potentially harmful behaviour. The customers felt this was a relatively effective CSR policy, with it attracting the highest mean of the selected policies surveyed. However, the empirical findings showed that the majority of gamblers (98%) have never experienced direct contact from support staff whilst gambling online. When compared with the 23% of gamblers considered to have experienced psychological harm, this policy is currently hugely disproportional.

The above points that suggest the current CSR measures are ineffective run parallel with prior research in the area, therefore this study agrees with Jones


Hillier and Comfort (2007), McBride and Derevensky (2009) and Matthews et al. (2009).

The fact that 80% of gamblers found it easier to spend money online was consistent with Griffiths and Parke’s suggestion (2002), which was not reported empirically. Thus these findings show that online gambling, and in particular the use of ‘e-cash’, can disrupt a gambler’s financial value. The nature of online gambling means that ‘e-cash’ is an inevitability, however further attempts by online companies to promote the ease at which money can be spent can be considered ‘exploitation’. As this is one of the biggest issues regarding gambling, practices which appear to do this should be addressed.

On such feature was ‘reverse withdrawals’. It logically follows that by increasing the time available for a gambler to change their decision, the opportunity for them to change their decision increases. The delay in transfer of funds back to the customer increases the opportunity for the psychological impact of ‘e-cash’ to take effect. Another criticism of this could also relate to the experience of preoccupation. If this feature was not in place, gamblers would withdraw funds without any further consideration. Gambling companies are adding further considerations to a gambler’s decision making process, thereby possibly increasing a gambler’s time spent occupying themselves with gambling. If time spent is related to preoccupation, then gambling companies are potentially increasing the likelihood of preoccupation, they are in turn also increasing the likelihood of problem gambling. In this instance, the practice of reverse withdrawals is inappropriate and socially irresponsible.


Each online gambling company was found to have used direct communication with customers or potential customers, by offering various incentives such as ‘free’ bets and promotions. This relates to Griffiths and Parke’s (2002) discussed concern that gambling companies could be targeting problem gamblers. The empirical results found from the survey established that 73% of gamblers have received promotional messages from gambling companies when they either do not, or no longer use that company’s site for online gambling. Therefore the likelihood of problem gamblers who have ceased their online gambling activity receiving these messages is high.

A further socially controversial feature implemented throughout sites was the use of ‘free’ or ‘practice’’ versions of games. As previously established from Sevigny et al. (2005), free play features are exploitative as they convince players of their ability to return higher winnings than is actually possible when they play for real money. It was found that the majority of gamblers play for real money after using the ‘practice’ or ‘free play’ feature. Whilst many factors may contribute to this, one of the established explanations was the misrepresentation of a gamblers chance of winning when playing with real money (Sevigny et al., 2005). As a form of exploitation this can be considered socially irresponsible. This also directly opposes Griffiths’ (2010) assertion that trust is vital in e-commerce. A company that is attempting to mislead it’s consumers will be unlikely to gain consumer trust, and thus could be negatively impacting their own revenues.


The above discussions concerning socially irresponsible features therefore agrees with a previous study by Griffiths et al. (2010) that suggests that the UK gambling industry displays ‘low levels of social responsibility’.

With respect to customer views, the majority agree that the psychological impacts of the online gambling industry represent a significant social problem. Thus a company’s publication of efforts to reduce this as a social problem are likely to be viewed positively by the public. As public perception is an important aspect of CSR an increase in policies could enhance the corporate image. The majority of customers also feel that online companies have a responsibility to protect their players. Thus the gambling public view the the psychological harm as a significant social problem, whilst at the same time holding the companies responsible for this. The customers did not believe companies currently offered enough support to counteract the negative effects of problem gambling. Thus, with regards to CSR policies, there is a deficit between what the public expects of companies and what is currently being offered - and they hold the companies accountable.



The findings have many potential implications. Firstly, the usage and awareness of CSR policies and regulations requires an increase. A recommendation would be to display the already in-use questionnaires on a commonly accessed section of site to increase the opportunity customers have to establish whether they are problem gamblers. This study also proposes that there to be a greater implementation of deposit limits as a CSR policy. This could be applied by providing consumers with a greater awareness that this feature exists, which relates to the previous point regarding customer awareness of information.

Gambling companies could also conduct a mandatory survey to customers upon joining their site, where the psychological effects of gambling would be assessed. They could then tailor the site to fit the consumer’s vulnerabilities. For example, a customer who records high instances of chasing losses would be forced to impose a deposit limit on his account. If gamblers gain a high response and thus appear to be problem gamblers, they could be restricted from access to the site. Whilst loopholes may exist around this, the companies would achieve CSR by being seen to promote social good.

As preoccupation with gambling represents one of the few detectable psychological impacts of problem gambling, this study also suggests that it is one in which gambling companies should be taking most steps to ensure they counter, thus legislation should enforce the use of Session Timers as a mandatory feature of online gambling sites. The removal of the reverse

withdrawals feature is another suggestion proposed by this paper, as this promotes further the negative psychological impact of ‘e-cash’ and thus is inappropriate and potentially encourages problem gambling.

Customers should also be enabled to opt out of future promotions when they decide to cease their gambling activity with specific websites, as promoting products to problem gamblers can only exacerbate the social effect caused by their company.

Online gambling companies should be more open to the idea that CSR can promote their brand and gain them legitimacy, as at present very little innovation regarding policies is evident - of the non government-enforced policies, they are generally parallel with competitors, suggesting companies are implementing the minimum procedures required so not to appear to have lower social responsibility than the rest of the industry. The technology for problem gambling tracking is available and in the case of Playscan, has been established to increase consumer loyalty in the online gambling industry due to the increase in trust. Currently optional, this paper proposes that the implementation of gambling tracking technology is mandatory.



To summarize, it has been established that more gamblers have experienced psychological harm due to gambling than the amount that have accessed the CSR policies. The utilization of individual policies by gamblers is also lower than the prevalence of harmed gamblers, whilst the accessibility of the current policies is low. The policies which are in place appear ineffective at countering the negative psychological effects associated with gambling. Of the two most detectable behaviours of problem gambling, neither had sufficient policies in place, either to detect or minimize them. There is a also deficit between what the public expects of the companies, and what is currently being offered in terms of CSR regulations. Gambling sites have been found to store customer information for the purpose of promotions, yet do not use stored information to protect potentially vulnerable players. Technology built to detect problem gambling behaviours is available but is not currently implemented, whilst the current measure of support staff is extremely under-used in the context of attempting to reach out to gamblers who have potentially experienced psychological harm. Gambling companies also implement a range of features that may may be exploiting and subsequently promoting the psychological harm caused by gambling. Thus this paper concludes that CSR policies are not relevant enough, they are not utilized to the extent they should be, and they do not appropriately address many of the social responsibility concerns. Therefore the Corporate Social Responsibility policies employed within the UK online gambling industry are not proportional to the psychological harm the industry causes its consumers.

Limitations and Future Research This study recruited participants from widely read online gambling forums, thus may not be fully representative of the wider gambling population. The empirical data from the survey may also not be a true reflection of gambling experiences; as Freeman & Goodenough (2009, p. 84) explained that one of the traits of a problem gambler is the concealment of problems. Future studies could assess the effectiveness of each CSR policy by attempting to develop a correlation between policy implemented and psychological effect caused. Research could also attempt to determine the financial implications of increased CSR initiatives within the industry.



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Appendix 1 - Survey Questions Part 1 - Have you ever accessed the Corporate Social Responsibility, or Responsible Gaming section of any UK online gambling site? - Are you aware of any policies implemented by online gambling sites to minimize excessive or harmful use? - Have you ever been contacted directly by gambling support staff whilst gambling online? - Have you ever implemented a deposit limit on your gambling account? - Have you ever utilized a self-exclusion facility?

Appendix 2 - Survey Questions Part 2 - Have you ever been contacted directly by a gambling site (via e-mail, telephone call, text etc) promoting an offer? - If yes, have any of these offers come from sites you don’t or no longer use?

- Have you ever used a ‘practice’ or ‘free play’ feature on an online gambling site? - If yes, did this result in you later playing the game for real money?

- When gambling, do you find it easier to spend money online as opposed to ‘real’ cash?

Appendix 3 - Survey Questions Part 3 To what extent do you agree that:

1. The psychological harm to individuals caused by online gambling is a significant social problem. 2. Online gambling companies have a responsibility to protect their players from the harmful psychological affects associated with problem gambling 3. Online gambling sites in the UK currently offer sufficient support to customers to counteract problem gambling.

Appendix 4 - Other Survey Questions Age: 18-25/ 26-34/ 36-49/ 50+

Gender: Male/ Female

How often have you experienced the following whilst, or as a direct result of, gambling online? - Chasing Losses - Restlessness or irritability - Disruption to your sleep routine - Feeling stressed 56

- Feeling of guilt over losses - Thrill of risking money - Anxiety - Preoccupation with gambling - Depression Suicidal thoughts

'Problem gambling' occurs when a person's gambling causes harm to themselves and/or those around them. How effective do you believe the following policies are in preventing problem gambling? - Self exclusion - Trained online support staff - Deposit limits

Have you ever accessed the ‘responsible gaming’ or CSR section of any UK online gambling site? Yes/ No

Are you aware of any measures in place to prevent the harmful effects of problem gambling? Yes/ No

Have you ever been contacted directly by gambling support staff whilst gambling online? Yes/ No


Appendix 5 - Ethical Approval Ethical approval for this project was granted by the Ethics Committee at the University of Glasgow on 15th January 2013.


Ethics Committee for Non Clinical Research Involving Human Subjects NOTIFICATION OF ETHICS APPLICATION OUTCOME – UG and PGT Applications Application Type:
(select as appropriate)

Application Number: CSS/BS/2012/387 Project Title: UG Dissertation

Applicant’s Name: Andrew Macdonald Date Application Reviewed:

(select from drop down as appropriate)

Start Date of Approval: 15/01/2013

End Date of Approval: 15/06/2013

If the applicant has been given approval subject to amendments this means they can proceed with their data collection with effect from the date of approval, however they should note the following applies to their application: Approved Subject to Amendments without the need to submit amendments to the Supervisor Approved Subject to Amendments made to the satisfaction of the applicant’s Supervisor Approved Subject to Amendments made to the satisfaction of the School Ethics Forum (SEF) The College Ethics Committee expects the applicant to act responsibly in addressing the recommended amendments.


Application is Not Approved at this Time

(select from drop down as appropriate)

Please note the comments in the section below and provide further information where requested. If you have been asked to resubmit your application in full then please send this to your local School Ethics Forum admin support staff. Some resubmissions only need to be submitted to an applicant’s supervisor. This will apply to essential items that an applicant must address prior to ethical approval being granted, however as the associated research ethics risks are considered to be low, consequently the applicant’s response need only be reviewed and cleared by the applicant’s supervisor before the research can properly begin. If any application is processed under this outcome the Supervisor will need to inform the School ethics admin support staff that the application has been re-submitted (and include the final outcome). The following section is only for completion for applications that required amendments to go to SEF (C)
(select as appropriate)

This section only applies to applicants whose original application was approved but required amendments.

Major Recommendations:
University of Glasgow College of Social Sciences Research Office Florentine House, 53 Hillhead Street. Glasgow G12 8QF The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401



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