Sports betting may be associated with high levels of problem gambling

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1. In this study, sports bettors in general tended to have high levels of problem gambling, and participation in sports betting was frequently associated with greater problem gambling severity.

2. Research on sports betting marketing and promotion was most prevalent in Australia and the UK.

Level of evidence assessment: 3 (Average)

Sports betting is a rapidly growing industry across the world. One of the main concerns about this behavior is that it can be a possible risk factor for problem gambling behaviors such as chasing losses, gambling preoccupation, and financial loss. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review was to examine associations between sports betting behaviors and psychosocial problems, as well as to explore differences between Western and non-Western cultures.

Of 2,450 records identified, 65 were included in the review from January 2010 to March 2022. Studies were included if they were primarily focused on sports betting or sports bettors and came from primary data sources. Studies were excluded if participants were children, adolescents, students, sports athletes, seeking treatment, and if the game was related to esports, loot boxes/micro transactions, horse racing, etc The authors then grouped the articles into 6 common areas in relation to sports betting.

The results demonstrated that sports bettors in general tended to have high levels of problem gambling, and participation in sports betting was frequently associated with greater problem gambling severity. Psychosocial issues did not seem to differ significantly from country to country. Additionally, searches for sports betting marketing and promotion were most prevalent in Australia and the UK. This could be because these places have an environment where sports betting marketing and promotion is acceptable and common. Despite these results, the study was limited by strict search criteria that may have excluded potentially relevant articles as well as those from the gray literature. Nonetheless, these findings may inform future research to determine how different aspects of sports betting in different cultures may relate to problem gambling.

Click to read the study in Journal of Behavioral Addictions

Picture: PD

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