Use of Consumer Protection Tools on Internet Gambling Sites: Customer Perceptions, Motivators, and Barriers to Use

J Gambl Stud. 2020 Mar;36(1):259-276. doi: 10.1007/s10899-019-09859-8.


Internet gambling has been widely legalised in recognition of its capacity to, and the importance of, providing consumer protection tools to prevent and minimise gambling-related harms. Most licensed Internet gambling sites are required to provide consumer protection tools, including activity statements, deposit limits, and time-outs (temporary self-exclusion). However, few Internet gambling customers engage with the tools. An online survey of 564 customers of Australian Internet gambling sites aimed to understand the extent to which consumer protection tools are used, characteristics of those using these tools, and the perceptions and attitudes towards tool use, including barriers to use. Most participants were aware of the tools and had accessed activity statements; few had used deposit limits (24.5%) or time-outs (8.1%) but use of these restrictive tools was higher among those at-risk of gambling problems. Satisfaction with tools was generally high among users and tools were mostly used as intended; however, only moderate changes in behaviour were reported. Participants predominately did not use the restrictive tools as they did not see these as relevant for them, and they were perceived to be intended for people with gambling problems. The findings are important to drive necessary improvements to consumer protection efforts including efforts to encourage perception that tools are relevant for all customers. Changes to current practice, including terminology and promotion of tools, are needed by Internet gambling operators and policy makers to improve the utilisation and effectiveness of consumer protection tools to enable sustainable gambling among the broader cohort of Internet gamblers.

Keywords: Harm minimisation; Online gambling; Prevention; Responsible gambling; Self-exclusion; Voluntary pre-commitment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Female
  • Gambling / prevention & control*
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Harm Reduction*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires