Win-concurrent sensory cues can promote riskier choice [open-access article].

Reward-related stimuli can potently influence behavior; for example, exposure to drug-paired cues can trigger drug use and relapse in people with addictions. Psychological mechanisms that generate such outcomes likely include cue-induced cravings and attentional biases. Recent animal data suggest another candidate mechanism: reward-paired cues can enhance risky decision making, yet whether this translates to humans is unknown. Here, we examined whether sensory reward-paired cues alter decision making under uncertainty and risk, as measured respectively by the Iowa Gambling Task and a two-choice lottery task. In the cued versions of both tasks, gain feedback was augmented with reward-concurrent audiovisual stimuli. Healthy human volunteers (53 males, 78 females) performed each task once, one with and the other without cues (cued Iowa Gambling Task/uncued Vancouver Gambling Task: n 63; uncued Iowa Gambling Task/cued Vancouver Gambling Task: n 68), with concurrent eye-tracking. Reward-paired cues did not affect choice on the Iowa Gambling Task. On the two-choice lottery task, the cued group displayed riskier choice and reduced sensitivity to probability information. The cued condition was associated with reduced eye fixations on probability information shown on the screen and greater pupil dilation related to decision and reward anticipation. This pupil effect was unrelated to the risk-promoting effects of cues: the degree of pupil dilation for risky versus risk-averse choices did not differ as a function of cues. Together, our data show that sensory reward cues can promote riskier decisions and have additional and distinct effects on arousal. Article available online

Citation: Cherkasova, M.V., Clark, L., Barton, J.S., Schulzer, M., Shafiee, M., Kingstone, A., Stoessl, A.J., & Winstanley, C.A. (2018). Win-concurrent sensory cues can promote riskier choice. Journal of Neuroscience, 38(48), 10362-10370. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1171-18.2018


Debiasing strategies for problem gambling: Using decision science to inform clinical interventions [subscription access article].

Purpose of Review: This review seeks to increase awareness of the broad range of interventions for problem gambling that focus on mitigating biased beliefs and behaviors. A secondary goal of this review is to stimulate thinking surrounding the use of so-called debiasing strategies within the areas of responsible gambling, prevention, and treatment of gambling problems. This is accomplished by classifying gambling interventions according to a taxonomy of debiasing strategies which is used more broadly within the field of decision science.
Recent Findings: Many interventions use cognitive and process-driven (known as technological) debiasing strategies. Furthermore, advances in technology to include digital games and online programs have the power to increase both the efficacy and appeal of such approaches. Unfortunately, far fewer interventions have taken advantage of affective and motivational debiasing strategies.
Summary: There are potential insights to be had and new directions to be explored by incorporating debiasing strategies and decision science into investigations of problem gambling interventions. Possibilities include identifying and examining understudied areas, combining debiasing strategies with existing treatments for problem gambling, developing multimodal debiasing interventions, and focusing explicitly on process-driven approaches. Article details and access conditions

Citation: Broussard, J.D. & Wulfert, E. (2019). Debiasing strategies for problem gambling: Using decision science to inform clinical interventions. Current Addiction Reports. DOI:

Exploring psychological need satisfaction from gambling participation and the moderating influence of game preferences [open-access article].

Abstract: Psychological needs are satisfied through leisure participation, which in turn influences subjective well-being. The present study explored the psychological needs reported to be satisfied through gambling participation and examined associations between need satisfaction, game preferences and subjective well-being. A heterogeneous, self-selected sample of 1446 participants was recruited, through the Internet gambling provider Kindred Group Plc, for an online questionnaire survey. Five psychological need dimensions of gambling were identified, using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses on calibration and validation samples, respectively: mastery, detachment, self-affirmation, risk and excitement, and affiliation. Challenge and mastery need satisfaction was higher for poker than for sports betting, horse racing, slots or casino table games; both self-affirmation and affiliation were also higher for poker than for sports betting and slots. By comparison, detachment was higher for slots than for sports gambling. While there were no significant variations in stress levels between the different forms of gambling, happiness ratings were lower for slots compared with sports betting and poker. This study provides insight into how distinctive patterns of play may satisfy different psychological needs and provides preliminary insights into how gambling patterns may prove adaptive or maladaptive as leisure choices. Article available online

Citation: Parke, J., Williams, R.J., & Schofield, P. (2019) Exploring psychological need satisfaction from gambling participation and the moderating influence of game preferences. International Gambling Studies. DOI: 10.1080/14459795.2019.1633381.

Fair and easy: the effect of perceived fairness, effort expectancy and user experience on online slot machine gambling intention [open-access article].

Abstract: The growth of online gambling necessitates that both marketers and regulators have a better understanding of the gambling intention of players. Perceived fairness of customers towards operators has often been raised as a concern in the industry, but it has received limited attention in research on gambling intention. Theories that seek to explain purchase intention are considered and a model is proposed that investigates the role and impact that perceived fairness and system effort expectancy have on online gambling intention together with the moderating influence of user experience. Data from 255 online gambling customers are gathered and analysed using Hayes PROCESS analyses. Results indicate that perceived fairness impacts gambling intention directly, and indirectly strengthening the effect of effort expectancy on gambling intention. However, user experience weakens both these impacts. The research provides support for the inclusion of perceived fairness in theories that consider drivers of online gambling intention. In addition, the important role that perceived fairness plays offers support for gambling regulators who in recent years have sought to promote a fairer and more transparent deal to players. Firms in the online gambling industry can also look positively at activities enhancing fairness as its promotion can also enhance their performance. Article available online

Citation: Konietzny, J., & Caruana, A. (2019). Fair and easy: the effect of perceived fairness, effort expectancy and user experience on online slot machine gambling intention. International Gambling Studies, 19(2), 183-199. DOI: 10.1080/14459795.2018.1526313

The nature of gambling-related harm for adults with health and social care needs: an exploratory study of the views of key informants [open-access article].

Aim: To explore the views of professionals working within health, care and other agencies about harmful gambling among adults with health and social care needs.
Background: Gambling is increasingly seen as a public health rather than an individual problem. Opportunities to gamble have grown in England in the last decade since the liberalisation of the gambling industry meaning that gambling is widely available, accessible and advertised within society. An estimated two million people in the UK are at risk of developing a gambling problem, some of whom may be adults with health and social care needs.
Methods: Twenty-three key informants from primary care, social care services and third sector organisations in England were interviewed about their understanding of the risks to adults with health and social care needs from gambling participation.
Findings: Thematic analysis revealed four themes: (1) gambling-related harm as a public health problem; (2) identification of groups of adults with health and social care needs who may be vulnerable to gambling-related harm; (3) factors potentially impeding the identification of gambling-related harm among adults with health and social care needs and subsequent helpseeking behaviour and (4) calls for professional development activities. Informants reported a perceived lack of awareness of gambling-related harm and a lack of a clear pathway or guidance which they could follow when supporting individuals experiencing gambling-related harm. Interviewees called for professional development activities to improve their knowledge and expertise in this area. Article available online

Reference: Bramley, S., Norrie, C., & Manthorpe, J. (2019) The nature of gambling related harm for adults with health and social care needs: an exploratory study of the views of key informants. Primary Health Care Research & Development 20(e115): 1–7. doi: 10.1017/ S1463423619000549

[Comment] Passing the ball: The United States Supreme Court strikes down PASPA and throws sports gambling back to the state legislatures / Hunter M. Haines [open-access article].

Though largely banned throughout the early 1900s, gambling experienced a rebirth in the second half of the twentieth century. Shortly after the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, however, federal legislators were worried that gambling would extend beyond traditional casino gambling and into the realm of sports, a possibility legislators unanimously opposed. Sports gambling had long been opposed by many legislators fearing it would corrupt amateur and professional sports organizations.
Validating legislators’ opposition and fear, several sports gambling scandals in the 1900s utilized bribery and extortion to compromise athletes. For example, in 1919, eight Chicago White Sox players arranged with the nation’s leading gamblers to manipulate the outcome of the World Series of Major League Baseball (“MLB”) to guarantee and collect a lucrative payout—infamously becoming known as “The Black Sox.” Thus, in 1992, with the support of those opposing sports gambling, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”), a statute that prohibited wagering on amateur and professional sports. Article available online

Reference: Haines, H.M. (2019). Passing the ball: The United States Supreme Court strikes down PASPA and throws sports gambling back to the state legislatures. Maryland Law Review, 78(3), 604-635.

Responsible gambling research and industry funding biases [subscription access article].

Abstract: This brief report examines whether there are differences in aspects of different characteristics, including design/methodologies of responsible gambling (RG), between studies funded by industry as compared to other sources. To investigate this, the authors used those studies included in a recent meta-analysis focusing on the empirical basis of RG initiatives (Ladouceur et al. in Addict Res Theory 25:225–235, 2017). We examined eight associations between funding sources, and different design/methodological characteristics of these studies; type of strategy, inclusion of comparison groups, measurement scales and repeated measures, publication source, number of inclusion criteria met, secondary sources of funding, publication year. The results revealed no statistically significant difference between the funding source, and the index study characteristics. These results do not support claims that funding exerts influence on the design or methodologies of RG studies. However, the absence of statistically significant findings should not be used to assert the absence of a funding effect because there are many reasons for failing to find differences, or interpretation of findings. Unexpectedly, a third of the papers included in this study failed to disclose their funding sources. This finding highlights the need for more open and transparent disclosures. Article details and access conditions

Reference: Ladouceur, R., Shaffer, P., Blaszczynski, A. et al. (2019). Responsible gambling research and industry funding biases. Journal of Gambling Studies, 35(725).