The study analysed results from a randomised online experiment, wherein academics from the university created an online game and gave each of the 1,500 participants a £5 bonus.
However, participants did not have to gamble if they didn’t want to. Out of the total participants, 579 – or 25.4% – chose not to gamble.
The participants were divided into three groups. Each group played the game under slightly different conditions.
One group played the game with a Take Time To Think slogan displayed in the background, another group played with the slogan displayed in the background as well as in a pop-up window that the user had to close to keep playing, and the third played the game with no slogan present.
Susceptibility measures, including the number of spins and whether the individuals would normally play casino games, were considered.
In total, 13,590 spins were made.
The report stated that even though the messaging was displayed more prominently for certain participants compared to what they would typically see on a gambling website, the results showed “no credible effects”.
Lukasz Walasek, associate professor of psychology at the University of Warwick and co-author of the study, explained that the slogan had minimal, if any, effect on the betting behaviour of the participants.
“The messaging had little to no effect on people’s gambling behaviour,” said Walasek. “The study did not reliably change the amount people bet, and it certainly didn’t have the intended effect of reducing the time spent gambling.
“Whether or not they received the message, people spent similar amounts of time placing each bet, made similar numbers of roulette spins, and played for a similar length of time overall.”
Professor Elliot Ludvig, professor of psychology at the University of Warwick, said that safer gambling messaging needs to be stronger, but also needs to be tested correctly to have a maximum impact.
“If the industry is to be successful at preventing gambling harm, awareness messaging should be strongly worded, but independently developed, tested and validated in order to better inform and educate people about gambling and its risks.” said Ludvig. “There’s a clear formula on alcohol labels for example, that outlines how someone can moderate their alcohol intake. On tobacco labels, the warning is very stark.
“Safer gambling messages could take on a similar format. It should be obvious how gambling addiction can take hold of people. Clearer messaging would also create greater transparency around certain games and how the wider industry works.”
Take Time To Think was first introduced in October 2021.