Harvard Medical School faculty from the Division on Addictions have been active in the addiction research and treatment field for the past 30 years. They have been cooperating with bwin since May 2005 to undertake a research project the like of which has never been done before. For the first time ever, researchers are examining online gaming, not by means of difficult to verify opinions and self-report, but by carefully studying the actual online behaviour of players. In an anonymous study, researchers observed the actual behaviour of more than 40,000 active bwin users for a period of eight months. The first findings have now been published and might be surprising to some.
The first publication from this project is available at the Division on Addictions (http://www.divisiononaddictions.org/html/library.htm). The majority of the players observed in the course of the study exhibited moderate gaming behaviour. For example, the average loss of the players participating in this eight-month study amounted to 33 euro. Only 0.4% of the total sample could be classified as distinctively heavy bettors with large losses, suggesting that only a limited number of players might have serious financial problems. Further research will now investigate how many players report gaming related problems at every level of play.
These encouraging initial results from the long-term study indicate that the potential of sports betting to cause a problem is considerably lower than generally presumed. Drs. Howard Shaffer and Richard LaBrie of Harvard Medical School conducted a workshop on Thursday in Vienna attended by leading European gaming experts.
One of the workshop participants was Geoffrey Godbold, Chief Executive Officer of GAMcare. He said that "this research will help identify addictive gamblers at an early stage." He also suggested that, in terms of future regulation, "it is important not to spoil the fun of the majority but rather target the small minority that has problems."
Howard Shaffer noted, "This is a landmark project for both the gaming industry and science because we are studying the actual gambling behaviour of a large sample of Internet gamblers for the very first time. I am proud of bwin for committing to using science as a guide to assuring the welfare of their customers and to advancing the safety of the Internet and new technology."
"Particularly in view of the fact that gaming addiction is used generally as an argument to justify betting and gaming monopolies, these initial results are specially gratifying." bwin Co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger comments the research project initiated by bwin. Co-CEO Manfred Bodner adds: "The intensive collaboration between researchers on the one hand and practitioners on the other warrants that science does not conduct research without taking practical experience into account. bwin has dared to take that step and has consulted independent experts on this subject matter. Which has proven to be a good decision in all aspects."