Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 205–223 | Cite as

Who Bets on Micro Events (Microbets) in Sports?

  • Alex M. T. RussellEmail author
  • Nerilee Hing
  • Matthew Browne
  • En Li
  • Peter Vitartas
Original Paper


Sports betting is expanding globally through introduction into new markets and growth in existing markets. Traditionally, bets were placed on the outcome of a match before match commencement, with the outcome not determined for hours or even days. The advent of in-play betting has reduced the delay between bet and outcome. A controversial form of in-play betting is betting on micro events (micro-betting), where consumers bet on outcomes such as the next ball in cricket, or the next point in tennis, with the outcome determined almost immediately. This enables rapid, impulsive and continuous betting and may heighten the risk of problem gambling. We surveyed 1813 Australian sports bettors to determine demographic, behavioural and psychological characteristics of micro event bettors, and of those who place a higher proportion of their bets on micro events. Our two hypotheses were supported: that more highly engaged bettors, including those with gambling problems, are more likely to (1) bet on micro events, and (2) place more of their bets on micro events. Of those who bet on micro events, 78% met criteria for problem gambling, and only 5% non-problem gambling (vs 29% and 28% respectively for non micro event bettors). Placing a higher proportion of bets on micro events was also related to problem gambling. Micro event bettors were likely to: be younger, well educated and single; engaged in a wider variety of gambling activities; and to have high trait impulsivity. Micro event betting appears to appeal almost exclusively to bettors with gambling problems, so a ban would represent a highly targeted intervention to reduce gambling-related harm.


Microbet Sports betting Problem gambling Micro events Impulse betting Gambling 



This study was funded by internal funding from the Centre for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University. The lead author was a member of this Centre at the time that the data were collected.


Alex Russell has received funding from Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation; Queensland Justice and Attorney-General; Gambling Research Australia; National Association for Gambling Studies; Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Alberta Gambling Research Institute. He has received industry funding for an evaluation of problem gambling amongst casino employees from Echo/Star Entertainment Group. He is also affiliated with the University of Sydney. Nerilee Hing has received research funds from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Gambling Research Australia, Australian Government Department of Social Services, Alberta Gambling Research Institute, the Australian Gambling Research Centre, the Queensland, New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian Governments, the Australian Research Council, and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. She has also received consultancy funds from Echo Entertainment and Sportsbet and an honorarium from Singapore Pools for membership of its International Advisory Committee. Matthew Browne has received research funds from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Queensland Government Department of Health, Australian Department of Social Services, New Zealand Ministry of Health, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Peter Vitartas has received research funds from the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General and declares no conflicts of interest in relation to this manuscript. En Li has received research grants from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and Gambling Research Australia.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversityBundabergAustralia
  3. 3.Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Business and LawCQUniversityRockhamptonAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Marketing, La Trobe Business SchoolLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

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