The Comparative Effectiveness of Regulatory Approaches and the Impact of Advertising on Propensity for Problem Gambling

Responsible Gambling Fund, 2011

88 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2012

See all articles by Simon Planzer

Simon Planzer

Dr, M.A., Esq.

Heather Wardle

NatCen Social Research; University of Glasgow

Date Written: October 1, 2011


This report, commissioned by the Responsible Gambling Fund (subsequently merged into the Responsible Gambling Trust), provides an overview of the state of research in relation to two fields: the comparative effectiveness of regulatory approaches and the impact of advertising on propensity for problem gambling. Additionally, it offers a set of recommendations to help steer future research.

Upon an extensive literature review, the report concludes that there is no published empirical evidence currently available which directly addresses the comparative effectiveness of regulatory approaches to gambling. At the time of writing, one interdisciplinary and cross-jurisdictional pan-European research project was however under way. In the absence of direct empirical evidence, the question was essentially only addressed in opinion papers where some scholars argue for responsible gambling policies based on informed consumer choices and others for more restrictive state intervention. Notably, these opinions correlate with the scholars’ view on gambling more generally, that is, whether gambling is seen as inherently addictive or not. There is growing evidence for social adaptation processes, that is, that people seem to adapt to the exposure to games of chance. The report identifies a need for closer collaboration between researchers from social sciences and the legal disciplines as well as gambling regulators.

With regard to the impact of advertising on propensity for problem gambling the report notes from the outset that measuring this impact is highly complex. The literature suggests that the overall impact of advertising on problem gambling among the general population may generally be overestimated. Nevertheless, there is some empirical evidence showing that advertising can influence perceptions of gambling and the messages in gambling advertising should therefore be closely assessed, in particular in relation to vulnerable groups like adolescents or problem gamblers. Several studies show that adolescents are particularly receptive to (positive and negative) messages and images transported in advertising and counter-advertising. Similarly, studies show that some pathological gamblers experience gambling advertising as an external impulse that triggers them to re-engage in gambling.

Keywords: gambling, advertising, problem gambling, regulation, effectiveness, pathological gambling, disordered gambling, EU, UK

Suggested Citation

Planzer, Simon and Wardle, Heather, The Comparative Effectiveness of Regulatory Approaches and the Impact of Advertising on Propensity for Problem Gambling (October 1, 2011). Responsible Gambling Fund, 2011. Available at SSRN:

Simon Planzer (Contact Author)

Dr, M.A., Esq. ( email )


Heather Wardle

NatCen Social Research ( email )

35 Northampton Sq
London, EC1V0AX
United Kingdom

University of Glasgow ( email )

Adam Smith Business School
Glasgow, Scotland G12 8LE
United Kingdom

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