The motivation principle applies to the usage of responsible gambling tools

In early June this year I visited the SNSUS conference, to talk about about my experiences from working with targeted responsible gambling communication. I presented a way of understanding the risk segment and I argued that by understanding the players’ motivation to change, we can carry out responsible gambling more effectively.


The Playscan tool is quite popular with players. So far this year the Playscan tool at Svenska Spel’s Sports & Casino-division has had close to 57 000 unique visitors. Also, almost 18 000 self-tests have been taken. These are good numbers. But when it comes to getting the high risk segment to interact with links to external resources, such as limit-setting or the national support line, we see a notable decrease from those numbers. Why is that? Could it have to do with lack of motivation?

Understanding the users’ needs and motivations

The Playscan risk analysis segments players into groups of low risk, moderate risk or high risk for developing gambling problems. The segmentation tells us if a risky behaviour exists, or not.

However, the segmentation does not give us good enough answers about our users’ needs. To understand them better we have done usability tests, observational studies and interviews with players. We have also built in feedback elements and comment fields in the product. This has helped us learn more about needs and motivations.

We have read thousands of comments and had many interviews with players about driving forces behind their gambling and how and when they use RG-tools. Throughout all of this, one thing stands out when it comes to changing behaviors or even clicking a link – you must be motivated to take action.

In short: we do not only need to understand the users’ needs. We also need to understand the users’ motivation.

The motivation principle

When researching what constitutes motivation I came across some points that stood out. Firstly, motivation is key to change – if we want to change a behaviour we need to feel motivated. Without motivation, change is difficult. Secondly, motivation is dynamic and can change, just as individuals are changing and evolving troughout their lifetime.

The question we asked ourselves was this: Can we, by asking how motivated the player is to change, add another layer to our understanding of the risk segment? We ran a questionnaire in the player interface. We asked users who visited Playscan about their thoughts on changing their gambling behaviour. When analysing the data we found that almost 14 % wanted to change.

There is a relationship between motivation and interaction with Playscan

We got curious about this “motivated risk segment”, especially the self-assessed problem gamblers and wanted to know more. How do they interact with Playscan?

For self-assessed problem gamblers who had low motivation – one in 25 clicks the link to the national support line. For highly motivated problem gamblers, that number is one in nine, almost three times more.

Other examples are the findings from Norsk Tipping. They are carrying out proactive conversations with, what they call, “Big Losers”. At the end of the call the staff has estimated how motivated the player is to behavioural change. Players who are perceived as highly motivated have been shown to be more receptive to the help offered by Norsk Tipping.

In the yearly follow-up of the proactive calls, Norsk Tipping investigated factors of what predicted safer gambling, as defined by less consumption. They clearly found that their method of staff setting spending limits worked well and reduced consumption for motivated players. In the group that was not motivated and did not set their limits there was still a drop in overall consumption, but not nearly as big as for those with limits.

Furthermore, when they focused on highly motivated players without spending limits, they found that group had reduced their spending by 70 % more than the ones who were not motivated.

Again, motivation was shown to be an important factor for behavioural change.

New opportunities for responsible gambling communication

This new layer of analysis allows for a deeper understanding of the needs of the player base. By investigating the users’ motivation, and by catering to that motivation through targeted communication, the operator can create a more effective responsible gambling-strategy.

If the user is motivated, we must ride the wave. Motivation can easily disappear.
The operator must make sure the responsible gambling resources are easy to access and easy to use.

What if the user is not motivated? Well, as said before, without motivation change is difficult. We must motivate first, and then help.


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