The NorthstarProblem Gambling AlliancePublic PerceptionsofProblem Gambling January, 2012
Research Objectives • Depth and intensity of opinion • How flexible or intractable people’s opinions are • Why they think the way they do • What could prompt them to change their opinions • The extent to which people trivialize addiction (i.e., is it a choice rather than an illness) • Where people get their information about problem gambling with an eye on how to better target messaging about the issues
Phase One: Preliminary in-depth interviews Place: Northstar Alliance offices, Roseville, Minnesota Dates: August 3-4 Subjects: 3 males and 3 females from the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Phase Two: Focus groups Place: Field Research Services, St. Paul, Minnesota Group 1 - 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, 29 November, 2012 -- 10 females from the Twin Cities Group 2 - 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, 29 November, 2012 - 10 males from the Twin Cities Group 3 (via telephone) - 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, 14 December - 3 males and 3 females from Greater Minnesota. Methodology Participant ages ranged from 29-64 years old. None had participated in focus groups in the past 6 months; none indicated they suffered from gambling addiction; none worked in the gambling or market research industries.
Cautions and caveats Results aren’t projectable to a larger population; they need to be tested with quantitative research
The “gambler” and “problem gambler” • Few had a mental image of either, suggesting that there’s no stereotype of a gambler or problem gambler • Many remarked about older people in casinos
In-depth interviews used projective techniques to tease out people’s “world view” of gambling addiction Awareness Relations to other issues Nomenclature How they develop Choice or addiction Lifestyle choice or treatable addiction?
Resources • Being supportive; talking with the gambler about his/her problem • Gamblers Anonymous • Gambling hotline • Getting them to talk with others who have had the same problem • Residential treatment programs • Psychological counseling • Behavioral approaches -- figuring out ways to make gambling less rewarding • "Pressure from others" • Support groups • Providing successful (due to treatment) role models • The internet • Pastoral counseling
Information sources/places • The Internet • Bars where there are pulltabs • The newspaper • Personal friends/coworkers • HR departments/hotlines • Pastors • Warnings (as on cigarette packs) • Casinos • Toilet stall doors in casinos • Social service departments • Billboards • Television • Yellow pages • Bus advertising (including in buses that take you to the casino)
Expected outcomes from treatment • Identifying the gambling "trigger" so compulsive gamblers can "stay away from it" • "Kicks" the problem • Creating a starting point for the rest of the person's life • A try at getting help • Creating changes in their lives • Staying away from places where gambling occurs • Stopping gambling
What type of message works best? Subjects cited four persuasion techniques as being potentially helpful. • Testimony of experts • Citation of scientific studies • Appeals to humanity • Personalized case studies
Testing specific message concepts • Subjects were asked to comment on four specific message concepts • Logical or emotional appeal • Perceived channels/audiences • Persuasiveness
Message 1 – Serious problem/serious consequences "Gambling addiction is a serious problem with serious consequences. Thousands of Minnesotans suffer from this addiction, which can lead to devastating financial problems, neglect of family and work, criminal activity, and even suicide. Many more suffer as the result of the gambling of a loved one." Perceived audiences/channels for this message: Billboards near casinos (like the before-and-after boards for meth addiction), newspaper advertising, TV PSA commercials, family and friends (not the gambler) • Perceived as emotional appeal, dark, heavy. • The numbers cited were stumbling blocks for some, who discounted the remainder of the message • Too generic • No hope, no plan, no call to action • Not considered effective
Message 2 – Treatable condition "Problem gambling is a treatable condition, and services are available in your community. While recovery takes time, patience, and support, people suffering from this condition are able to reclaim their lives." Perceived audiences/channels for this message: Gamblers who want to help themselves, doctors' offices, TV, department of motor vehicles, casinos, the gambler (not family and friends), places that sell lottery tickets, billboards. NOT casinos. • Perceived as rational appeal • Hopeful • “Reclaim their lives” resonated • Suggests that gamblers are taking responsibility • Scored best on persuasiveness • Needs a 1-800 number
Message 3 – Society approach "Breaking the cycle of gambling addiction is critical to a healthy society. It is far less costly for society to treat gambling addictions than to deal with the consequences of leaving the addiction untreated." Perceived audiences/channels for this message: slot machine sides, government offices, activists testifying to city councils on community access channels, Social Security offices, brochures in the lobby of a clinic, at Congressional hearings, politicians, health care workers, social workers. • Perceived as neither rational nor emotional • Something like you’d hear a social worker cite to a government hearing • Scored very low on effectiveness, especially among men
Message 4 – Good people/bad problem "Problem gamblers are young, old, male, female, rich, poor and come from every ethnic background. They are not simply morally weak, and are not bad people. They are good people with a bad problem." Perceived audiences/channels for this message: Junior high or elementary school students, poor people, bus stops, library bulleting boards, TV PSA commercials • Perceived as rational appeal, but illogical (bad people have problems, too) • Too broad brush, insulting, lecturing, irritating were some comments • Something like you’d hear in health class, from your grandma, or pastor • Scored low on effectiveness
Conclusions • Compulsive gambling has low awareness • No single picture of a gambler or compulsive gambler • Most think it is a treatable addiction, but a minority consider it just lack of willpower – and are adamant about it • Except for the hard-core minority, opinions appeared to be thoughtful, and people were open to discussion and change
Conclusions • Comes first from lifestyle choice but then becomes an addiction • Need for control • Need to win back loses • Psycho-chemical stimulus? • Lack of awareness of resources • Message testing showed one winner and three approaches that were perceived to be less effective
Recommendations • Increase awareness of compulsive gambling as a social and psychological problem through mass media campaign • Test the advertising campaign with groups similar to these, now that it's known that some messages resonate better than others. • Use these findings to inform a more detailed quantitative study than has been done in the past to ascertain a) the population proportions for those who believe that compulsive gambling is an addiction and those who believe it's a lifestyle choice, and b) quantify how strongly held those opinions are. • Include in the study the demographics and other variables that would permit a segmentation analysis to allow message targeting, i.e., marrying channels with the specific message to reach a specific segment of problem gambler. 5. Examine these findings to see if there are any channels or avenues for an information campaign that have not been tapped.
Questions? Rob Daves Daves & Associates Research 5412 Hampshire Drive Minneapolis MN 55419 612-822-0085 Rob@DavesAndAssociates.com