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Study finds gambling warning labels ‘ineffective’

A recent study by the University of Warwick and CQUniversity found that warning labels used by online gambling operators are quite ineffective. Besides being hard to find, gambling warnings are confusing and full of jargon that’s almost completely incomprehensible to the layman. It’s a conclusion that won’t likely surprise players, but may garner the attention of international gaming regulators such as the UK Gambling Commission.

The study examined 363 roulette games presented by 26 licensed operators and did not paint a pretty picture. One of the biggest takeaways from the study was most warning labels are quite hard to find and once found, quite hard to read. For example, researchers found that in 99 percent of the examples studied, warning labels used the smallest font size possible and “the least prominent boldness”. In most instances, the warnings were not presented in a consistent location each time they were displayed.

But gambling warnings aren’t just hard to find, the study concluded, they’re extremely hard to understand once you actually do find them. One of the biggest issues in this area is that warning labels use acronyms that aren’t easily understood by laymen. Researchers specifically cited the use of terms like “RTP is 97.2973” (which means Return to Player) but isn’t commonly used in casino gambling.

Dr Lukasz Walasek of the University of Warwick Department of Psychology, who worked on the study, commented on the problems associated with gambling warnings saying, “It is hard to imagine that this information could be less ‘easily available’ than we observed. Even though our objective was to document the regulator’s mandated risk information, we found it rather hard to find these details.”

Though the study was not commissioned by the UKGC, it seems likely that its results will get their attention. Don’t be surprised to see updated regulations about warning labels coming to a licensed UK operator near you.