Conceptualising emotional and cognitive dysregulation amongst sports bettors; an exploratory study of ‘tilting’ in a new context

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Tilting is a poker-related phenomenon that involves cognitive and emotional dysregulation in response to unfavourable gambling outcomes. Tilting is characterised by an increase in irrational, impulsive and strategically weak betting decisions. This study aimed to adapt and investigate the concept of tilting amongst sport bettors in order to provide preliminary insight regarding previously unexplored instances of maladaptive sports betting. The sample consisted of 225 sports bettors who completed an online questionnaire that investigated their reported tilting episodes, awareness of tilting, impulsivity, perceived skill, gambling severity, gambling frequency, and product preferences. Cluster analyses revealed three distinct groups of sports bettors based on their reported tilting episodes and their awareness of this phenomenon. The first group were labelled ‘Conscious tilters’ due to being cognizant of their own tilting occurrence which was significantly higher than the other two groups. These ‘Conscious tilters’ had the highest mean problem gambling severity that was indicative of the ‘problem gambler’ categorisation. The second group were labelled ‘Unconscious tilters’ due to their underestimation of their own tilting occurrence and were categorised as ‘moderate risk gamblers’. The third group were labelled ‘Non-tilters’ due to a relatively accurate perception of their low to non-existent tilting occurrence and were categorised as ‘low-risk gamblers’. Additionally, there were significant differences between these groups in relation to reported gambling frequency, impulsivity, and product preferences. There is evidence of various classifications of ‘tilters’ within sports betting. Specific sports betting product features may also facilitate tilting and therefore require further research in this context. It is important for this research area to develop in order to mitigate harms associated with the rapidly changing sport betting environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0264000
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2022


  • article
  • awareness
  • cluster analysis
  • controlled study
  • ego development
  • exploratory research
  • human
  • impulsiveness
  • pathological gambling
  • perception
  • questionnaire
  • skill
  • sport
  • tilting


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