Online gambling's moderators: how effective? Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Julie Caillon, Marie Grall-Bronnec, Jean-Benoit Hardouin, Jean-Luc Venisse, Gaelle Challet-Bouju
BMC Public Health 2015 May 30, 15: 519

BACKGROUND: Online gambling has been legalized in France in 2010. Licenses are issued to gambling operators who demonstrate their ability to respect the legal framework (security, taxation, consumer protection, etc.). The preventive measures to protect vulnerable gamblers include an obligation to provide online gambling moderators. These moderators should allow gamblers to limit their bets, exclude themselves from the website for 7 days, and consult the balance of the gambler's account at any time. However, there are only a few published reports of empirical research investigating the effectiveness of Internet-based protective measures implemented by French law. Moreover, no empirical research has yet studied the impact of bonuses on gambling behaviors.

METHODS/DESIGN: This research is an experimental randomized controlled trial, risk prevention targeted. The research is divided into four sub-studies depending on the studied moderator: limiting bonuses, self-exclusion, self-limitation and information. The study sample consists of 485 volunteers. For each experimental condition and the control groups, the sample is composed of gamblers equally recruited from gamblers having preferences in each of the three major forms of games (lottery and scratch tickets, sports and horserace betting, and poker). For each form of gambling, the gamblers are recruited in order to obtain as many problem gamblers as non-problem gamblers. According to the randomization, the experimental session begins. The experimental session is a gambling situation on a computer in our research center. The gambler is invited to play on his favorite gambling site as usual, with his own gambler account and his own money. Data collected comprise sociodemographic characteristics, gambling habits, an interview about enjoyment and feeling out of control during the gambling session, moderator impact on gambling practice, statement of gambling parameters and questionnaires (BMIS, GRCS, CPGI, GACS). Moderator efficiency is assessed based on the two major characteristics of gambling behavior: money wagered and time spent in gambling.

DISCUSSION: The results of this research will be important to prevent online problem gambling and influence policy-makers.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT01789580. Registered 8 February 2013.

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