The relationship between gambling sponsorship and the normalization and prevalence of gambling (GAMSPON)

15 December 2022 → 15 March 2026
Federal funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Advertising
Project description

There is great concern about the rise in gambling participation and problematic gambling behaviour due to the presence, visibility, strong promotion and general normalization of gambling in society. Gambling advertising is regarded as an important contextual factor contributing to gambling and, subsequently, problematic gambling behaviour. In Belgium, an almost complete ban on gambling advertising with transitional measures was recently approved: from July 1, 2023, almost all forms of gambling advertising will be banned, from 2025, gambling sponsorship will be severely restricted, and finally, from 2028, gambling sponsorship will also be banned. There is a lot of protest about this from various sectors (such as the gambling, sports and media sector). However, these claims are often based on insufficient empirical and scientific evidence. Empirical research and more specifically experimental research has hardly been carried out, which makes it important that research is done into the impact of gambling advertising in Belgium on young people and adults.

Through this research proposal, we will map the impact of gambling advertising on (problematic) gambling behaviour, attitudes with regard to gambling behaviour and intentions with regard to gambling behaviour in young people and adults. Insights from this project will be used to develop policy guidelines with the ultimate aim of better protecting people who gamble and preventing gambling harm.

In order to answer this central research question, four different research objectives are formulated:

  1. The first research objective investigates the prevalence of (problematic) gambling behaviour in the Belgian population and examines the relationship between exposure to gambling sponsorship and gambling behaviour.
  2. A second objective focuses on the causal relationships of adults between gambling sponsorship and gambling-related attitudes, intentions and behaviours, and which underlying mechanisms explain these relationships.
  3. The third objective examines young people's (16 to 21 years) attitudes and attitudes towards gambling brand sponsorship and how this contributes to the normalization of gambling.
  4. A fourth and final objective focuses on informing stakeholders and the willingness of stakeholders (gambling industry, practice and policy) to implement the evidence-based guidelines.

To meet these four diverse objectives, the study will use a multi-method approach. A combination of quantitative (experimental and survey research) and qualitative methods (focus groups) will be used to answer the different research questions. Each of the research objectives is linked to a specific data collection and data processing. For example, research objective 1 is answered on the basis of a survey study (embedded in the national health survey of Sciensano), a series of experimental studies are carried out for research objective 2, and research objectives 3 and 4 are answered on the basis of focus groups.

The research team leading this project is interdisciplinary, has experience with gambling research and/or policy, and consists of diverse profiles in terms of age and gender. Several research disciplines join forces, including communication sciences, sports management, criminology and public health. This interdisciplinary team provides a unique combination of expertise, each from their own domain.

The scientific added value of this project is correspondingly, as empirical evidence on the impact of gambling advertising and gambling sponsorship is extremely scarce. This project will also provide insight into the underlying mechanisms that can explain the impact of gambling advertising on young people and adults. Due to the fact that the popularity of gambling is increasing and also the associated problems such as financial problems, the social aspect also plays an important role in this project. In addition, the results of this project can contribute to the development of policy guidelines on gambling advertising in Belgium in order to better protect young people and adults against the possible harmful consequences of gambling. Finally, on the economic front, the role of responsible gambling will be emphasized and will in the long term improve the reputation of the gambling sector and try to reduce the social damage of gambling.