Gambling is an everyday leisure activity for many in British and Irish society, whether it be a flutter on the horses, or a punt on the lotto.  Recently, the practice of online gambling has increased with the advent of mobile devices.  The global online gambling market has doubled between 2009 and 2015 and is expected to reach US$60bn by 2020 (Statista, 2018).  Driving this growth has been the relaxation of regulation in both the UK and Ireland.  This has been combined with the increased marketing communication of online gambling, particularly through sports broadcasting.  This has led to the ‘gamblification’ of sport (Lopez-Gonzalez & Griffiths, 2017). Fulton (2017) claims gambling is a leisure activity in which participation does not often result in addiction, however online gambling reduces the barriers between the individual and the practice.

Emerging literature has mapped how the rise in problem gambling activity has negative health consequences for individuals and more importantly on the problem gambler’s wider social networks, including their partners, children and friends.  This has meant that gambling has become a public health issue in both the UK (Lopez-Gonzalez & Griffiths, 2018) and Ireland (Fulton, 2017).  While we are beginning to understand the consequences of problem gambling, gaps remain in our knowledge around the role of marketing communications on the experience of problem gamblers.  Solutions to these issues from the gamblers themselves are practically non-existent.

This research project strives to fill this void.  We aim to explore how marketing communications influences problem gamblers’ betting behaviour so as to generate public health solutions that are relevant for our community.

To achieve this aim, we outline the following objectives.

*To map the rise of the sports marketing and gambling communications

*To categorise the sports marketing communications tactics employed

*To co-create potential solutions to prevent gambling or improve the marketing communications of safe and responsible gambling

*To co-create potential solutions to reduce harmful betting behaviours

It should be noted that these are subject to review and scope exists for the right candidate to work with the supervisory team to shape the project. This project is inter-disciplinary as it combines two Ulster experts in sociology (Life and Health Sciences) and marketing communications (Ulster Business School) on the practices of online gambling consumption.

We propose a multi-stakeholder and participatory approach by involving gambling charities and problem gamblers from across the island of Ireland. Participation with these individuals who self-identify as problem gamblers will require stringent ethical protocols as they form a vulnerable group.  The lead supervisor has previous experience in successful Category B applications. Our design will draw on participatory approaches with those affected by gambling to role of sports marketing on

Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Publications record appropriate to career stage
  • Experience of presentation of research findings
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Use of personal initiative as evidenced by record of work above that normally expected at career stage.


    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to:

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University