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National Gambling Board

South African Responsible Gambling Foundation

NRGP & NGB Research

Four definitive reports have been written by the South African National Responsible Gambling Programme on Gambling Behaviour and Problem Gambling in South Africa. The first was written in 2001, and followed by reports in 2003, 2006 and 2009. These reports were written by Profs. PC Collins and GDI Barr.

PDF  2001 report

PDF  2003 report

PDF  2006 report

PDF  2009 report

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The objective of these reports was primarily to measure the incidence of “problem gambling” in the adult population of South Africa. In addition, these reports profiled the demographic character of SA gamblers and sought to establish, inter-alia, how familiar South Africans are with different forms of gambling, how much they participate in them and what their attitudes are towards gambling; the prevalence of problem and pathological/addictive gambling in South Africa; and to establish a baseline against which to measure future change.

In this set of research studies, gambling was defined as staking something valuable in the hope of winning a prize where the outcome is unknown to the participants. Investing on the stock market was excluded but playing the lottery, bingo and charity “jackpots” in newspapers were included as well as Fafi, scratch-cards, casino games and betting on horses and other sporting events. Of course, the characterisation of gambling as a vice or a recreation depends on moral judgements which vary in different cultures, at different points in history and amongst different individuals. It is not a function of the relative dangerousness or safeness of gambling compared with other activities which some people indulge in excessively and, thereby, harm themselves and others.

Other reports have been written, notably those commissioned by the National Gambling Board, the latest of these is the Socio-Economic impact of Legalised Gambling in South Africa, by Prof AA Ligthelm.

PDF  Report by Prof AA Ligthelm


Recent research by the NRGP for the Gauteng Gambling Board has considered the use of simulation to explore the extent to which gamblers are able to negotiate the conflict between demonstrable statistical principles underpinning games of chance and deeply held convictions which could be loosely termed "gambler's fallacies".  The spreadsheet below allows players to "play" the game of European Roulette for some fixed bet and determine their winnings, and then for multiple plays to interrogate the concept of casino house advantage. 

  1. In the initial phase of the exercise, the simulated Roulette game first worksheet (tab: Play_Roulette) is used to examine the return one receives on (repeated) contrasting bets of one's choice. In order to demonstrate the fact that the expected return will remain constant but the variability of that return will differ greatly it is suggested that one tries contrasting bets; for example, play and compare the returns of a Red or Odd bet versus a Number bet.

  2. In the second phase one may observe a large number of plays before reaching any conclusions about the efficacy of any betting strategy. One may then proceed to the second worksheet (tab: MultiplePlays) in the software which records and tabulates the results of large numbers of simulated plays. At this stage the cogent point about constant expected value across different bets generally becomes clearer. If one continues to use the contrasting bets suggested above, although the observed % profit/loss, referred to as the house advantage, varies across n plays, it is much more stable for the low risk bet (Red or Odd) than the high risk (Number) bet.

  3. The software has a third worksheet (tab: CasinoAdvantage) which allows one to empirically build the distribution of the house advantage. The empirical results for selected bets can be observed, followed up by a demonstration that these findings in fact reflect the theoretical concepts of expected value and variance of a random variable. This level has been added in order to challenge those who have grasped the first two levels and who wish to pursue a deeper understanding of the statistical concepts.


Please download the Excel file from the link below  »

Excel    Roulette sim

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