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Navin Bahl

Navin Bahl: What Drives Poker Players to Gamble

February 7, 2014 — 

It’s a simple question with no easy answer – but that didn’t stop Asper MSc marketing student Navin Bahl (MSc/12) from tackling the problem in his innovative graduate thesis.

Using a new qualitative methodology called netnography, along with more traditional gambling motive typologies, Bahl’s goal was to not only find answers, but make a difference.

Netnography uses online marketing research techniques to provide meaningful insights into the behaviour of individuals on the Internet. Impressed by Bahl’s innovative approach, the Manitoba Gaming Control Commission awarded him with $5,000 in 2010 to support his study. Under the guidance of Dr. Rajesh Manchanda, he completed his research and defended his thesis a year later.

Bahl says the Asper School gave him the opportunity, freedom and supportive environment he needed to pursue his research interests. The School provided him with technological resources and connections to knowledgeable professors, as well as fellow classmates.

Now a PhD student at the University of Hawaii, Bahl continues to research online gambling. Last year, he interviewed over 30 professional American online poker players to collect data.

He’s currently preparing a list of recommendations to government authorities, international agencies, trade associations, research-oriented higher education institutions, multi-national corporations and financial institutions – recommendations that explain how the burgeoning field of social marketing could be used to encourage online poker players to gamble responsibly.

“In the online poker industry, new legislation can protect consumers by eliminating prohibition laws,” he says. “Another recommendation might be to allow offline casinos or government bodies to compete in the online poker market, which would enable them to regulate online gambling more efficiently. Offline casino operations are governed by regulatory bodies and have the resources to control underage poker, gambling addiction, unscrupulous online gambling operations and other gambling issues.”

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