Report Casts Doubt on Industry Set Deposit Limit Effectiveness

A new report commissioned by GambleAware has cast doubt on the practice of gambling companies offering fixed deposit limits. Research shows consumers set a lower threshold amount when given the freedom to choose.

A new report by The Behavioural Insights Team has shown that gamblers reduce their online gambling deposit limits by almost half if they can set their limits rather than choose one that is predefined by operators.

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Report Questions Industry Deposit Limits © Pixabay.

The research, commissioned by GambleAware, found that removing the pre-determined industry set levels, bettors set a much lower figure for themselves than the operators allowed, up to 46% lower than the set amounts offered.

Part of the study’s remit was to establish whether the current design of deposit limits influences an individual’s gambling behaviour and if the industry’s practice of ‘anchoring’ a deposit amount is a behavioural science technique which ensures choices can be over-reliant on existing information.

In the trial, 45,000 existing bet365 customers were contacted and invited to set deposit limits on their accounts and as a result, 1,731 which equates to 4% of those contacted, did so. The Behavioural Insights Team then spent four weeks studying these gamblers’ behaviour in regards to deposit levels.

Those that participated in the study were randomly divided into three subsets;

Group one, which researchers dubbed the control group, used the standard responsible gaming options in which a consumer logs in to their account and sets deposit limits. The amount they can set starts at £10 then goes up in increasingly large steps, £50, £100, £150, £250, £500, £1000, £2000, £2500, £5,000 up to a maximum of £1,000,000.

Group two were presented with a drop-down box which had low-value deposit limit numbers such as £10, £20, £30, £40, £50 etc. up to a maximum of £250. They also had a text box, in which they could type the amount they wished to set as their deposit limit.

The final group only had a text box to type their own deposit limit with no suggestions on the amount they should set as a limit.

After the month monitoring period, researchers found that customers exposed to industry-standard deposit drop-down boxes deposited more money into their bet365 accounts.

For group one, the average deposited was £445.96. Group two, which had the lower amounts shown, the average was £426.37. The final group who had free reign on the amount, the average was £360.78. This figure for group 3 represented a drop of 46% compared to group one and a 45% decrease compared to group two.

Behavioural Insights Team principal advisor Rosanna Barry said that the report is a culmination of a huge amount of work by the team. Adding: “It shows how seemingly superficial changes to the way that gambling sites offer deposit tools, if implemented across the industry and for all customers, will deliver large benefits to individuals who gamble and society as a whole, without constraining customer choice,”

This research has been performed at a crucial time for the industry as the Gambling Commission has invited input on proposed changes to the 2005 Gambling Act. The online call for evidence includes a section on deposit limits. Gambling Commission executive director of research and policy Tim Miller said of the research: “This is an important study that uses experiences from real consumers to find what actually works to reduce the harms that can come from gambling,” Miller said.

“Importantly, it provides practical options for how gambling operators can strengthen the tools they provide to protect consumers from harm.”

The UKGC survey on the industry is available online, and the closing date for submissions is Tuesday 9 February.

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