In it to win it: An interdisciplinary investigation of sports betting

This $267,000 Australian Research Council Discovery project – DP190101405 (2019-2022) aims to better understand how young adults use, communicate about and experience mobile phone sports betting applications. Gambling generates significant health and social harms in Australia. Yet there is little research on the use of betting apps, even though sports betting is the fastest growing segment of the gambling market.

The project is interdisciplinary, drawing upon social practice theory, and assemblage thinking; and combines ethnography and cognitive neuroscience to examine how use of sports betting apps is becoming established as everyday social practice –normalising problem gambling.

The findings will enhance understanding of the social contexts of sports betting; and inform gambling policy and programmes leading to better health and social outcomes.

There are four stages to the project which will be run across 2020-2021. We plan to recruit 50 participants aged between 18-35 in the Sydney Metropolitan region who have used a sports betting app at least once in the last six months. Participants will be invited to take part in each stage in order to provide different types of data which can produce different types of knowledge. This will provide in-depth insights into the individual, social, material, affective, neurological, and physiological impacts of using sports betting apps.

  1. Semi-structured interviews: ‘Getting to know you’
  2. Cognitive neuroscience: ‘Mapping brain responses using EEG and eye tracking’

Participants will be invited to use sports betting apps while being monitored with EEG and eye tracking. This will allow monitoring of areas of the brain associated with decision making or

  1. Follow-up open-ended narrative interviews.
  2. Visual ethnography.

The interdisciplinary project team brings together a diverse set of knowledges and skills. Critical scholars from Social Marketing for Behaviour and Social Change, Sociology, Human Geography, Neuroscience, and Consumer Research will collaborate on an interdisciplinary project that seeks to understand the way that sports betting apps are used in everyday life. Mixed methods of ethnography, and cognitive neuroscience will be used, and data triangulated to generate insights about social practices of using sports betting apps and to inform appropriate gambling policy and program responses.


Professor Gerda Reith, Glasgow, Partner Investigator Professor Gordon Waitt, Wollongong, Chief Investigator Associate Professor Joseph Ciorciari, Swinburne, Chief Investigator Dr Lauren Gurrieri, RMIT, Chief Investigator Dr Theresa Harada, QUT, Research Fellow Hayden Cahill, QUT, PhD Student


  • Gordon, Ross, Reith, Gerda (2019) Gambling as social practice: A complementary approach for reducing harm? Harm Reduction Journal, 16, pp.Article number: 64.