Over the last decade, where and how we live our lives has profoundly changed. The rise of social media has changed what information we encounter, whom we know and talk to, and how we talk about our lives, experiences and problems.

Like so many other parts of our lives, over the last decade gambling has moved online. People use it both to gamble, but also to connect with others who do so; sharing their wins and losses, discussing new opportunities, and also their struggles and problems with gambling. However, little is known about how the rise of social media, and more broadly the digital world, has changed gambling and those that do it: how it is promoted, the norms and beliefs that people have about gambling, the kinds of conversations about gambling that take place, and the kinds of communities of gambling enthusiasts that form online. Especially, it is unclear whether social media is either promoting or confronting problematic and harmful gambling behaviours.

This paper presents the results of research by Demos to understand the relationship between gambling and social media within the UK. A short scoping study, the research aims to understand the scale and nature of conversations related to gambling that now happen across a number of different spaces within the digital world, the extent to which they can be researched, and overall to scope the potential for future research opportunities in this area.

The report combined in-depth qualitative research of social media with new, in-house, large-scale analytic techniques, both carried out between 21st of September to 16 October 2016, to produce:

  1. The Big Picture

A birds-eyed view case study of the gambling ecosystem on Twitter, the different communities that constitute it, and the behaviour of accounts both dedicated to promoting gambling and those providing help for problem gamblers.

  1. The Detailed Picture

Three qualitative case studies of social media-based gambling communities, in order to understand the significances, contexts and meanings that sit underneath the numbers and statistics.

  1. Review of Measuring Harmful Gambling-related Behaviour

An analysis of whether social media reflects and facilitates possible harmful gambling and gambling-related behaviour, and its role in forming, propagating or challenging these habits.

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