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Pennay et al - sports bar manuscript revised v3 (September)_clean.docx (131.01 kB)

Sports bars: environmental design, drinking, and sports betting

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Background: Informed by literature on venue design and ‘nudging’ in the context of choice architecture, the purpose of this article is to investigate the physical design of, and practices enacted within, sports bars to provide some indication as to whether these venues are spaces that encourage risky drinking and betting. Methods: Our analysis draws on three arms of data collection: (i) website review of licensed venues in Victoria, Australia that promoted sports telecasting; (ii) observational data collection including site visits to 50 venues in Victoria that promoted sport telecasting, and more intensive sessions of observation during six sporting matches; and (iii) in situ interviews with 200 sports bar patrons. Findings: We identified three types of sports bars: (i) prototypical sports bars; (ii) venues that have a sports bar section; and (iii) venues that televise sport on occasion. Sports bar attendees reported moderately heavy drinking at sports bars and frequent engagement in sports betting. We identified two distinct groups of sports bettors. Prototypical sports bars and venues that televise sport on occasion attracted younger men who bet the least frequently but in the highest amounts, while venues that have a sports bar section attracted older men who bet more often but in smaller amounts. Conclusions: We identified several design elements across the three types of venues, each ‘nudging’ sports betting and drinking in different ways. Any focused public health work in relation to sports bars will need to consider the social and physical design elements of different sports betting environments.


This project was funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation in partnership with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. AP is supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award [190101074]. ML is supported by an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship [1123840]. RR is supported by a core grant to the Center for Alcohol Policy Research from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).


Publication Date



Addiction Research and Theory






11p. (p. 316-326)


Taylor & Francis



Rights Statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Addiction Research and Theory. Amy Pennay, Michael Livingston, Megan Cook, Robin Room, Robyn Dwyer, Sarah MacLean, Niamh O’Brien, Matthew Nicholson & Emmanuel Kuntsche (2021) Sports bars: environmental design, drinking, and sports betting, Addiction Research & Theory, 29:4, 316-326, DOI: 10.1080/16066359.2020.1830071. It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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