The role of mental health in online gambling decisions: A discrete choice experiment

Lachlan Cameron, Jemimah Ride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


People with mental health problems are more likely to experience problems due to gambling, an intersection of two sources of social disadvantage. However, the mechanisms by which this occurs remain unclear. Analysing if choices while gambling differ for people with mental health problems, and whether these differences involve characteristics linked with gambling harms, can improve this understanding. Evidence on this is limited because most studies rely on survey questions or aggregate data which are either self-reported, unlikely to allow for identification of separate features of gambling options, or do not observe the full set of options people are choosing between. Discrete Choice Experiments can circumvent these issues by observing the gambling environment and individual's gambling choices. This study uses a Discrete Choice Experiment to analyse people's choices while gambling, and if these differ for people with mental health problems. Participants were offered a series of 6 choice sets representing online gambling on horse racing; each presented two hypothetical horse races, both with eight horses, differing in the information they provided. Participants chose which race (if any) and horse they would bet on. The choices were modelled using mixed logit models. People with mental health problems had (i) a lower preference for betting on races with information about horses’ recent form and (ii) preferred betting on horses with higher odds. (i) Could indicate that they put less thought into their bet, a sign of gambling as an escape. (ii) Could indicate that they are more risk seeking. These are two gambling characteristics linked with problems due to gambling and are plausible mechanisms by which people with mental health problems may be more likely to develop problems due to gambling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115885
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Discrete choice experiment
  • Horse racing
  • Marketing strategies
  • Mental health problems
  • Online gambling
  • Problems due to gambling

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