Evaluation of the BetSafe Program's Effectiveness
SYNAVAL, an independent research company based in Melbourne, was invited to conduct evaluation research into the effectiveness of BetSafe, to identify the extent to which the program is achieving its objectives, and to identify any areas of improvements. Following is a summary of their findings.
- Promotion of Responsible Gambling
- Assisting Problem Gamblers
- Assistance in Controlling Gambling
- Identification of Gambling Problems
- Assisting Staff to Manage Problem Gambling Issues
BetSafe is a program focused on providing its member clubs with policies, guidelines and procedures that will 'create a responsible gambling environment for patrons and employees by adopting a responsible conduct of gambling'. The BetSafe program is aimed primarily at three major groups:
- Club members - the advertising and provision of problem gambling services
- Club Staff - ensuring that gambling is delivered in a responsible manner, and assistance in managing problem gamblers and difficult situations.
- Problem gamblers within the clubs - minimisation of harm associated with gambling among those people who have identified themselves as having a problem with gambling.
In January 2001, SYNAVAL completed a report commissioned by Paul Symond Consultancy independently evaluating the BetSafe Program's effectiveness in achieving its objectives for club members, club staff and problem gamblers. SYNAVAL'S evaluation was based on quantitative data collected from the completion of self-completed interviews and face-to-face exit interviews at representative clubs. In general terms, BetSafe was found to be perceived by respondents as very effective in assisting problem gamblers (71%) and assisting staff to manage gambling situations (71%), while the area of controlling the gambling behaviour of non self excluded members was identified as an area for further development in the future.
Sixty-five percent of members, 67% of self excluded members and 77% of staff believe that people can gamble responsibly. The belief that people can gamble responsibly was associated with awareness of the BetSafe program.
Respondents' notions of what responsible gambling is did not differ significantly between those who were aware of the BetSafe program and those who were not. Areas that may need further emphasis in future BetSafe programs include, its affect on other parts of peoples lives, the use of household money, not chasing losses, and having realistic expectations of winning.
Awareness of BetSafe is significantly higher amongst self excluded patrons (80%) and staff (98%) than members (66%). Accordingly, staff and self excluded members perceive BetSafe as more effective in assisting them to understand responsible gambling, when compared to the general membership
Forty-three percent of respondents indicated that the brochures and signage has improved their awareness of responsible gambling - brochures and signage were significantly more effective in improving awareness amongst staff (77%) amongst members (24%).
Eighty-one percent of staff believe that their Club's commitment to responsible gambling has improved since the introduction of the BetSafe program.
This may be attributed to the finding that awareness of the signage and notices encouraging responsible gambling and promoting counselling and client care services, information brochures and warning notices were consistently recognised more highly, and perceived as more effective, by staff compared to members.
A key focus of BetSafe is to assist people after they have developed a gambling problem.
Using the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) to measure the extent of problem gambling, it was found that 32% of members and 20% of staff exhibited some gambling problems, and all self excluding members were exhibited some problem.
Fifty percent of all respondents reported an awareness of the services of BetSafe. Awareness among staff was particularly high with 83% reporting awareness of BetSafe's services - this proportion was significantly higher among those staff that had completed BetSafe training (94%) compared to those who had not completed BetSafe training (63%). However, the 31% awareness among members indicates that measures targeted at members are an area that may be enhanced in the future.
For all respondents, one on one and family counselling services were the main service identified (staff - 80%; members -74%)
Amongst staff, self exclusion was another commonly identified service of BetSafe (37%). Interestingly, BetSafe-trained staff were significantly more aware of this service (44%) than those staff not trained by BetSafe (11%). Awareness of this service among members was lower than that among staff (3%) indicating that the promotion of the self exclusion policy amongst members may represent an area of focus in the future.
Telephone counselling was a further service commonly identified part of the BetSafe program (staff - 29%; members - 30%). Finally, the provision of financial/legal advice was a service that received awareness amongst staff - again Staff who had completed BetSafe training were more aware of these services (19%) than those who had not completed such training.
While unprompted awareness of self exclusion is low among members and staff, once the explanation of the self exclusion policy is given, 67% of staff and 49% of members rate it as an effective measure in assisting people to control their gambling. Significantly, 87% of self excluded members indicated that the self exclusion policy is effective in assisting them control their gambling, and 50% indicating it is very helpful. This finding suggests that while awareness of the self exclusion service may be relatively low, once accessed by those members who identify themselves as having a problem with gambling, the self exclusion service is effective in assisting them in gaining control of their gambling.
Interestingly, people who are aware of BetSafe services are more likely to be aware of other services for problem gamblers than those who are not aware of BetSafe. The most commonly reported other services included Gambler's Anonymous (50%), counselling (20%) and G-Line (17%).
Respondents indicated a high level of awareness of who can access BetSafe's services - most respondents were aware that anyone who has an issue relating a gambling problem might access such services. When asked who can gain access to BetSafe services, respondents indicated the following:
- A person with a gambling problem - 88%
- The spouse or partner of a person with a gambling problem - 77%
- The children of a person with gambling problem - 61%
- The friends of a person with gambling problem - 62%
- The employer or work associate of a person with gambling problem - 57%
BetSafe trained staff exhibited significantly more awareness of who may access the services of BetSafe.
Eighty three percent of self excluding members reported that the BetSafe had been effective in helping them to understand the extent and seriousness of their gambling problem.
Help line was rated as more effective than promotional materials by 69% of respondents, with 77% of self excluded members, 72% of staff, and 64% of members indicating they believed the BetSafe help line is effective.
BetSafe counselling was rated as effective by 75% of respondents, with 80% of self excluded members, 79% of staff and 71% of members indicating that they believe it is effective in assisting people to control their gambling. Importantly, 43% of self excluded members believed BetSafe counselling was very effective in assisting them to control their gambling. The findings suggest that counselling, conducted face-to-face and or over the phone, are effective in assisting people gain control over their gambling, with face-to-face counselling perceived as more effective.
Ninety-three percent of self excluding members reported a reduction in their problems with gambling - 23% reported a complete reduction after self excluding, 43% reported a significant reduction, and 27% reported a smaller reduction in their problems with gambling.
Seventy-three percent of self excluding members have received counselling for their problems with gambling, while 23% chose not to receive counselling. Of those self excluded members who received counselling, 91% reported a reduction in gambling since commencing gambling - 18% reported a complete removal of their problems with gambling, 68% reported a significant reduction in their problems with gambling, and 5% reported a smaller reduction in their problems with gambling.
While 27% of self excluding members who had received counselling reported a complete removal their problems with gambling, 13% of those who had not received counselling share the same results. This finding suggests that, while self exclusion is an effective policy in bringing a reduction in problem gamblers levels of gambling, a greater level of success occurs when counselling is received in addition to exclusion.
Taken together, these results are particularly encouraging they indicate that once problem gamblers access the help available to them through BetSafe, a vast majority experience, at the least, a significant reduction in their problems with gambling.
Eighty-six percent of self excluded members, 79% of staff and 70% of members believe that the BetSafe services are effective in assisting people to control their gambling.
Those members who were aware of BetSafe, and those staff who were BetSafe trained, were actually more likely to be identified by the SOGS as problem gamblers than those who were not aware of BetSafe or BetSafe trained. While in the case of members, this may simply indicate that those who have a problem with gambling are more likely to be aware of gambling related information, for staff this indicates that the education programs for Staff have not decreased the incidence of problem gambling.
Across all respondent groups, awareness of controlled and uncontrolled gambling behaviours was high, awareness of these behaviours was not significantly higher for those who are aware of BetSafe. This may be reflective of an already high level of awareness of controlled and uncontrolled gambling behaviours, prior to contact with the BetSafe program. Particular controlled gambling behaviours promoted by BetSafe of which respondents were less certain included setting limits in time, keeping a record of losses and wins, and maintaining a bank account specifically for gambling money.
Particular uncontrolled gambling behaviours of which respondents were less aware included displaying remorse after a gambling session, and promising to stop or control gambling. A greater awareness of these controlled and uncontrolled gambling behaviours should be an area of greater emphasis in future training modules and promotional material.
Eighty-two percent of staff indicated that the BetSafe program has been effective in helping them identify when someone is having a problem with gambling. Working in an environment where patrons gambling habits are readily observable allows them, more than members, to put the information and educational packages of BetSafe into practice.
Eighty-two percent of staff indicated that the BetSafe program has been effective in helping them identify someone might have a problem with gambling. It is not only those who have received the training who perceive as having been helpful, suggesting that those who have not been trained directly may have may have learnt from their colleagues.
Thirty percent of members indicated that the BetSafe program has been effective in helping them identify when someone is having a gambling problem. This suggests that educational programs for members might be an area for further development in the future.
In BetSafe's member clubs, the most commonly completed program for client care relating to gambling, in its member clubs, completed by 72% of all staff, while the Responsible Conduct of Gambling course has been completed by 49% of all staff, and the Responsible Serving of Alcohol course has been completed by 11% of all staff.
When compared those staff who have not completed BetSafe training, BetSafe-trained staff are significantly more confident in their knowledge of the following issues relating to gambling:
- Problem gambling and the concept of responsible service of gambling
- How the BetSafe program can help problem gamblers
- The information presented in the signs and information brochures
- Counselling services available
- The procedures for assisting the a patron to voluntarily self exclude from the club
- The procedures for assisting the patron to involuntarily exclude from the club. However, this represents am area that perhaps requires a higher level of awareness in the future
BetSafe has a positive impact on staff awareness of the inappropriateness of approaching a patron only suspected to have a gambling problem.
Staff who have completed BetSafe training reported positive attitudes towards BetSafe's procedures for managing gambling problems, as evidenced by three findings. First, 93% of staff who have completed the BetSafe training course indicated that their awareness of responsible gambling had improved; this is reinforced by the finding that BetSafe-trained staff evidenced a higher level of prompted awareness of the appropriate procedures for managing gambling situations, compared to those not BetSafe-trained. Second, 80% percent of staff indicated that they believed BetSafe procedures are effective in dealing with patrons who may have a gambling problem. Third, 82% of staff believe that the BetSafe staff is one of professionalism.
There was little difference between BetSafe-trained staff and those not BetSafe-trained in the level of unprompted knowledge of the procedures to be covered in scenarios such as dealing with gambling related concerns from a third party and patrons 'indirectly asking for assistance'.