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Understanding Positive Play: An Exploration of Playing Experiences and Responsible Gambling Practices

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This study is one of the first to explore in detail the behaviors, attitudes and motivations of players that show no signs of at-risk or problem gambling behavior (so-called ‘positive players’). Via an online survey, 1484 positive players were compared with 209 problem players identified using the Lie/Bet screen. The study identified two distinct groups of positive players defined according to their motivations to play and their engagement with responsible gambling (RG) practices. Those positive players that played most frequently employed the most personal RG strategies. Reasons that positive players gave for gambling were focused on leisure (e.g., playing for fun, being entertained, and/or winning a prize). By contrast, problem gamblers were much more focused upon modifying mood states (e.g., excitement, relaxation, depression and playing when bored or upset). The present study also suggests that online gambling is not, by default, inherently riskier than gambling in more traditional ways, as online gambling was the most popular media by which positive players gambled. Furthermore, most positive players reported that it was easier to stick to their limits when playing the National Lottery online compared to traditional retail purchasing of tickets. Problem players were significantly more likely than positive players to gamble with family and friends, suggesting that, contrary to a popular RG message, social play may not be inherently safer than gambling alone. It is proposed that players (generally) may identify more with the term ‘positive play’ than the term ‘RG’ which is frequently interpreted as being aimed at people with gambling problems, rather than all players.

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This project was funded by a research grant from Camelot the operators of the UK National Lottery. Beyond agreeing with the initial project proposal, the funders had no say in the analysis or report writing and agreed to allow publication at the Author’s sole discretion.

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Correspondence to Richard T. A. Wood.

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Wood, R.T.A., Griffiths, M.D. Understanding Positive Play: An Exploration of Playing Experiences and Responsible Gambling Practices. J Gambl Stud 31, 1715–1734 (2015).

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