Can Positive Social Perception and Reduced Stigma be a Problem in Sports Betting? A Qualitative Focus Group Study with Spanish Sports Bettors Undergoing Treatment for Gambling Disorder
The way society perceives problem gambling, and its effects on how problem gamblers perceive themselves have significant consequences on the wellbeing of people experiencing gambling disorder. Associated with social perception, stigma and other social perception-related features have an impact on the way problem gamblers identify themselves, seek for help, and recover. However, not all gambling types are identically perceived by the society. The present paper examines the case of the social perception of sports betting in the context of Spain. A total of 43 male sports bettors undergoing treatment for gambling disorder were interviewed within seven focus group discussions. Using a qualitative thematic analysis technique, participants reported two fundamental characteristics of sports betting social perception: (1) the absence of negative connotations associated with sports betting comparative to other gambling forms; and (2) the presence of positive connotations that sanitised sports betting as a harmless practice. The study reports aspects such as the lack of stereotypes, the low-involvement of betting as a product, the novelty of online sports betting, the social construction of the normal bettor, and the workplace gambling normalisation as elements that could lead to an increase in gambling-related harm. This is the first study to explore the social perception of sports betting in a subgroup of problem sports bettors and suggests that policymakers should be cognizant of these perceptions in order to inform responsible gambling regulation .
KeywordsGambling Sports betting Problem gambling Gambling disorder Gambling stigma Workplace gambling
This work was supported by the Government of the Basque Country, Spain, under grant reference (Eusko Jaurlaritza, POS_2015_1_0062). This work has been additionally funded by the Spanish Organization of the Blind (ONCE, III International Award, 2016). Hibai Lopez-Gonzalez and Ana Estévez declare that they have no competing interests. Mark D. Griffiths declares that he has received funding for a number of research projects in the area of gambling education for young people, social responsibility in gambling and gambling treatment from the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, a charitable body which funds its research program based on donations from the gambling industry. He also undertakes consultancy for various gaming companies in the area of social responsibility in gambling. In addition, his university currently receives funding from Norsk Tipping (the gambling operator owned by the Norwegian Government) for ongoing research.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
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. The study obtained the ethical approval of the first author’s university research ethics committee. The participants signed a consent form, in which they were reassured that participation in the focus group was voluntary along with their rights to withdraw from the study at any time, the confidentiality of their data management, and their anonymity. Furthermore, participants agreed to be audiotaped (no video) for research purposes. All of the participants who agreed to take part in the study received a small gift at the end of the session (i.e., a USB flash drive or earphones with an approximate value of €10).
- Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego. (2016). Estudio sobre prevalencia, comportamiento y características de los usuarios de juegos de azar en España 2015. Madrid: Spanish Ministry for Finance and Public Administration.Google Scholar
- Federacion Espanola de Jugadores de Azar Rehabilitados. (2018). Memoria de actividades 2017. Madrid: FEJAR.Google Scholar
- Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1984). Social cognition: From brains to culture. Social cognition. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Gordon, R., & Chapman, M. (2014). Brand community and sports betting in Australia. Victoria: Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.Google Scholar
- Griffiths, M. D. (2005). A biopsychosocial approach to addiction. Psyke and Logos, 26(1), 9–26.Google Scholar
- Jiménez-Murcia, S., Stinchfield, R., Alvarez-Moya, E., Jaurrieta, N., Bueno, B., Granero, R., et al. (2009). Reliability, validity, and classification accuracy of a Spanish translation of a measure of DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 25(1), 93–104.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- National Opinion Research Center. (1999). Gambling impact and behavior study: Report to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.Google Scholar
- Newall, P. W. S. (2018). Behavioral complexity of British gambling advertising. Addiction Research and Theory, 25(8), 505–511.Google Scholar
- Parke, J., & Griffiths, M. D. (2007). The role of structural characteristics in gambling. In G. Smith, D. Hodgins, & R. Williams (Eds.), Research and measurement issues in gambling studies (pp. 211–243). New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Parke, J., & Parke, A. (2013). Does size really matter? A review of the role of stake and prize levels in relation to gambling-related harm. Journal of Gambling Business and Economics, 7(3), 77–110.Google Scholar
- Petry, N. M. (2016). Gambling Disorder: The first officially recognized behavioral addiction. In N. M. Petry (Ed.), Behavioral addictions: DSM-5 ® and beyond (pp. 7–42). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Podesta, J., & Thomas, A. C. (2017). Betting restrictions and online wagering in Australia: A review of current knowledge. Canberra: Australian Gambling Research Centre and Australian Institute of Family Studies.Google Scholar
- Saldaña, J. (2009). The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar