Defining the key issues discussed by problematic gamblers on web-based forums: a data-driven approach

Alex Bradley, Richard J. E. James

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Online forums can be a source of support for people with gambling-related problems. Forum threads contain detailed information about these gamblers’ experiences. However, because of limitations in data collection and analysis, there have been few systematic analyzes of forum content. The aim of this study is to use web scraping and correlated topic modeling to develop a bottom-up, data-driven approach to identify key issues raised by gamblers participating in an online forum, taking 2,298 posts from 1,400 unique authors over a twelve-year period. The data revealed ten themes that fall into four superordinate categories: negative emotions caused by gambling, the process of recovery, gambling products and money related concerns. Negative emotions associated with gambling was the most common topic occurring in 25% of posts. The process of recovery theme could be divided into formal and informal resources for dealing with gambling problems. Gambling products captured both traditional high street and new online forms of gambling. A final theme highlighted how family and friends become sources of finance to fund gambling. These findings can be used to design brief psychosocial education programs which highlight the consequences of gambling on oneself, one’s family and the emotional impact that emerges from gambling.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Gambling Studies
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 30 Jul 2020


  • gambling
  • web scrapping
  • online forums
  • correlated topic models


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