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Patterns of Play

Analysis of data from machines in bookmakers

Published: December 2014


This report systematically documents, for the first time, how, when and where gaming machines in bookmakers in Great Britain are played.

This ground breaking research was able to distinguish between problem and non-problem play on machines.

The data presented in this report serves as a baseline against which changes can be traced and highlights key issues which warrant further research.


The full programme of research has been published by the Responsible Gambling Trust and is available here:


  • There were some key regional differences apparent with London standing out from all other areas: here the most bets were placed, at the highest stake values and the most money was lost.
  • It was clear that those who play machines after 8pm at night have very distinct patterns of play: stake sizes rose dramatically from 8pm, the proportion of sessions that reached the maximum stake doubled between 10pm and midnight and B2 games particular roulette increased in popularity in the evening.
  • Third, machine play appears to be affected by major sporting events – with an increase in the number of bets placed in the months where large sporting events occurred.
  • The mixing of different types of games (i.e., B2 and B3) was also associated with differential machine play. These sessions were longer and where gamblers tended to lose more money.


Data was provided from the five main bookmakers in Great Britain - Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill.

The analysis presents the data from gambling machines over a number of key areas of interest: the number of bets made, sizes of stakes, net expenditure, length of gambling sessions and types of games played.