Problem gambling message board activity and the legalization of sports betting in the US: A mixed methods approach

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The current study looks at participation on a popular message board website ( to see if recent expansions of sports betting in the US correspond with the growth of an online mutual support group. Data for the study included the number of weekly posts on the r/problemgambling message board from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2020. The current study applies Interrupted Time Series Analysis using the introduction of online sports betting in the US outside of Nevada as the intervention point. Thematic analyses of forum post titles (17,041 titles) and full posts drawn from 75 randomly selected days for the data collection period (558 posts) were also conducted. Results of the Interrupted Times Series Analysis showed that, after the intervention, there was a significant immediate increase and significant faster growth in the number of posts on r/problemgambling. Thematic analysis revealed increased discussion of American professional sports after the interruption date and criticism of States seeking to expand gambling availability. The growth of self-organizing online communities offers an opportunity to increase help-seeking for people experiencing harm related to their gambling participation. Monitoring these communities can provide early indication of the impacts of major policy changes on gambling behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107133
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


  • Interrupted time series analysis
  • Message boards
  • Policy
  • Problem gambling
  • Thematic analysis


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