Literature review of the impact of EGM characteristics on gambling harm

About the study

This report, by Schottler Consulting, provides a literature review of Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM) structural characteristics and their effect on players. The objective of this project was to review recent literature on the design characteristics of EGMs and their impact on gambler behaviour and gambling-related harm to assist the regulator to have the most up-to-date understanding of all relevant research.

A total of 192 peer reviewed and scholarly papers, with 74 studies identified since 2014, are included in the report.

The key findings were:

Findings of the review highlight a range of new insights about the impacts of EGM characteristics, including strong evidence in relation to the following:

  • problem gamblers use higher bets and higher denomination EGMs than non-problem gamblers
  • losses disguised as wins have potential to contribute to gambling harm
  • pay back schedules influence gambling behaviour
  • higher note acceptors may be associated with increased gambling harm and possibly higher gambling expenditure
  • pre-commitment is not likely to be taken up by gamblers, unless the benefit of pre-commitment are actively promoted to them
  • free spins and features are likely to be associated with increased excitement during gambling, particularly for problem gamblers
  • high jackpots are very attractive to and are highly coveted by problem gamblers.

Findings from this review are intended to inform policy, prevention and treatment efforts, as well as informing the direction of future research on the risks associated with specific EGM features.

How to cite this report

Schottler Consulting. (2019). Literature review of the impact of EGM characteristics on gambling harm. Commissioned by the New South Wales Responsible Gambling Fund, Sydney.