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PhD Study: Assessing the impact of social media upon gambling behaviour and the potential for social media to be used to promote positive gambling behavioural changes

Northumbria University

The Research

This research will explore how social media shapes gambling attitudes and behaviours and how different messaging approaches may be used to encourage safer gambling behaviours.

As online gambling has grown and innovated over the past decade, so too have approaches to marketing, with social media advertising becoming an influential channel, particularly amongst younger people who may be more vulnerable to gambling harms. Indeed, research conducted by the Gambling Commission in 2016 found that almost seven in ten (68%) 18 – 24-year olds reported being encouraged to gamble by posts made on social media.

In parallel, insight into effective behaviour change communication strategies has been evolving in public health fields such as smoking cessation. This study seeks to bring together an understanding of the role of social media in influencing attitudes to gambling, both from the viewpoint of understanding the negative influences advertising may have, but also the potential for positive change through the sharing of safer gambling messages.

The project will consist of four studies to provide insight against these questions, spanning both qualitative and quantitative methods.


The research entails semi-structured interviews with gamblers alongside a number of experiments to test attitudes and behaviour when interacting with gambling content posted on social networking sites.

Project lead
Scott Houghton, Northumbria University Principle Supervisor - Dr Richard Cutter, Northumbria University
Thesis submission due March 2021