Pop-Up Pokie Warnings Could Encourage Players to Gamble More


The Australian government has enacted a number of measures aimed at helping pokie players gamble more responsibly; however, some of these systems may be doing more harm than good, according to a new study by researchers at Central Queensland University (CQU).

The research project worked with 200 pokie players in Adelaide, who were tasked with evaluating pop-up messages on the games that aim to encourage responsible gambling. While the messages are meant to help players spend less on games, they actually seem to be counterproductive, as many female players intensified their gambling after receive a warning message.

Each player was given $20 to play a simulated poker machine game. After a certain number of rounds, a pop-up message would appear on the screen, such as:

  • Gambling at lower speeds leads to greater enjoyment.
  • Did you know your play speed has increased?
  • You’re playing at similar speeds to most problem gamblers.

“These messages were determined by a matrix that distinguished between informative, self-monitoring and self-evaluative messages that were either positive, challenging or negative,” says Tess Armstrong, a researcher who worked on the project.

Older people who took part in the study started to make smaller bets after seeing the messages, while males slowed down their rate of gambling. On the other hand, females responded to the messages by betting more quickly or by wagering more persistently.

There are very few studies that focus on the efficacy of pokie machine warning messages, and this particular research project brings up some important issues. Researchers should take care to look into these further, focusing on the content of the warning messages and how they can be best delivered in order to effectively encourage players to gamble responsibly.