Warning messages for electronic gambling machines: evidence for regulatory policies


In the United States, warning messages were first included on tobacco products in the 1960 s, and were subsequently added to alcohol products in the 1980 s. However, they have yet to be applied comprehensively to gambling. Several jurisdictions, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, have mandated responsible gaming requirements, including pop-up warning messages to provide players feedback on potentially risky play. The aim of the current paper was to conduct a systematic review of the literature on gambling-related warning messages and to discuss the public policy implications of the research to date. Across all studies examined, the use of warning messages was largely supported. Messages informed consumers and if applied appropriately, potentially reduced harm. The mode of message display, along with placement, content, framing, and context were all found to influence the impact of messages. Messages demonstrated optimal impact when they popped-up on the center screen, created an interruption in play, and required active removal by the player. Messages were more effective at modifying behavior when they were brief, easy to read, and direct. As opportunities for gambling continue to increase, findings support that gambling-related warning messages can reduce risky gambling play and can be used to inform policy decisions around responsible gaming. Gaps in the warning-message literature to be addressed by future research efforts and to further inform prevention policy are discussed.

Publication Title

Addiction Research and Theory