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What’s the Message? A Content Analysis of Emails and Texts Received from Wagering Operators During Sports and Racing Events


Previous research has established direct messages (such as emails and text messages) are a widely seen form of advertising and are highly influential on sports betting and race betting behaviour. Nevertheless, few studies have examined the specific content of these messages, and whether their content is related to account-holders’ betting behaviour. The current study used an ecological momentary assessment design to examine direct messages received from wagering operators during the week around major Australian sports and racing events. Respondents completed a baseline survey followed by short daily surveys over a period of 1 week during peak betting periods, and provided the research team with the emails and text messages they received from wagering operators during this time. A sample of 102 sports and 110 race bettors provided a total of 931 messages. These messages subsequently underwent a content analysis to extract key features that were promoted, including inducements, incentives, and bet type. The analysis found the messages were saturated with inducements to bet, however no relationships were identified between the content of messages and the gambling risk status or betting frequency of participants. The most common types of incentives offered included bonus bets, rewards points, better odds/winnings, and reduced risk. Frequently promoted inducements included bonus or better winnings, refund/stake back offers, and match your stake/deposit. Given the influences of inducements on increasing betting expenditure and impulsive betting identified through previous research, taken together with the findings of the current study, direct messages may contribute to experiencing gambling-related harm. These findings have important implications for consumer education and the regulation of direct messages.

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  1. Incentive and inducement categories in the current study were adapted from Hing et al. (2017b).


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This work was supported by a grant from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

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Correspondence to Vijay Rawat.

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VR has received research funds from Gambling Research Australia, CQUniversity, and the New South Wales Office of Responsible Gambling. He declare no conflicts of interest in relation to this manuscript. NH 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. She declares that she has no conflicts of interest in relation to this manuscript. AR has received funding from Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation; New South Wales Office of Responsible Gambling; 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. He declares no conflicts of interest in relation to this manuscript.

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All procedures performed in this study 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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See Table 3.

Table 3 Frequency of types of sports/racing bet on in the past 12 months

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Rawat, V., Hing, N. & Russell, A.M.T. What’s the Message? A Content Analysis of Emails and Texts Received from Wagering Operators During Sports and Racing Events. J Gambl Stud 36, 1107–1121 (2020).

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