Who Spends Money to Play for Free? Identifying Who Makes Micro-transactions on Social Casino Games (and Why)

Kim, H. S., Hollingshead, S., & Wohl, M. J. A. (2016). Who Spends Money to Play for Free? Identifying Who Makes Micro-transactions on Social Casino Games (and Why). Journal of Gambling Studies, 1–14. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-016-9626-6
Social casino games are online gambling-like games found on social networking sites. They are initially free to play, however, players are encouraged to make micro-transactions (i.e., in-game purchases) for additional game credits or functionality. As a result, they generate billions of dollars in revenue. Yet, little is known as to who purchases virtual credits, let alone why. In the present research, we assessed whether there are individual differences (impulsivity, reward sensitivity, competitiveness, and problem gambling severity) between who is and who is not likely to make micro-transactions during social casino game play. Moreover, we examined possible motivations for making micro-transactions (e.g., extend play, win back lost credits) and whether the individual difference variables of interest predict reported motivation(s) for making micro-transactions. Results showed that social casino gamers who engaged in micro-transactions reported significantly higher levels of impulsivity, reward sensitivity and problem gambling severity, but not competitiveness. In terms of motivation to make micro-transactions, desire to extend play was endorsed most frequently, followed by a desire to access additional features, chasing lost credits, and to speed up play. Lastly, among participants who made micro-transactions, reward sensitivity predicted making micro-transactions to chase lost credits. These results suggest the personality make-up of social casino gamers is important to understand who is likely to make micro-transactions as well as their motivation to do so—information that could prove useful for regulation of the industry.

Prevalence of Adolescent Problem Gambling: A Systematic Review of Recent Research – full text

Calado, F., Alexandre, J., & Griffiths, M. D. (2016). Prevalence of Adolescent Problem Gambling: A Systematic Review of Recent Research. Journal of Gambling Studies, 1–28. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-016-9627-5
Previous research has shown that gambling is a popular activity among adolescents. Following a rapid expansion of legalized gambling opportunities and the emergence of new forms of gambling, many researchers have carried out studies on adolescent gambling and problem gambling. The present paper reviews studies that have been conducted worldwide since 2000, and then presents a more detailed picture of adolescent gambling research in Europe, by providing a country-by country analysis. After an extensive search on academic databases and following an exclusion process, 44 studies were identified. The findings showed that 0.2–12.3 % of youth meet criteria for problem gambling, notwithstanding differences among assessment instruments, cut-offs, and timeframes. However, despite this variability, several demographic characteristics were associated with adolescent gambling involvement and problem gambling. It is concluded that a small but significant minority of adolescents have gambling-related problems. Such findings will hopefully encourage more research into youth gambling to further understand the determinants of this phenomenon.

Populations at Risk for a Gambling Disorder: Older Adults – full text

Thompson, K. M., & McNeilly, D. P. (2016). Populations at Risk for a Gambling Disorder: Older Adults. Current Addiction Reports, 1–5.
Purpose of review: Older adults who gamble are a population of concern, yet older adult problem gambling remains a topic of limited examination. This article seeks to critically evaluate the existing older adult problem gambling literature. Recent findings Recent literature uses generational comparisons to predict gambling behaviors of those newest to older adulthood, the Baby Boomers. These studies indicate that Baby Boomers participate in gambling activities at a higher rate than previous generations and that they may be further negatively impacted as access to gambling expands. Prevalence rates of problem gambling vary across countries suggesting that culture influences perceptions of gambling for older adults. While poorer health outcomes have also been associated with problem gambling, positive effects of gambling on cognition have also been suggested. Summary Finally, the authors offer personal observations and hypothetical discussion about these research implications and emphasize the need for better awareness, screening, and study of gambling disorders among older adults.

Child maltreatment and problem gambling: A systematic review

This study systematically reviews research on child maltreatment and risk of gambling problems in adulthood. It also reviews adult problem gamblers’ risk of abusing or neglecting their own children. Multiple database searches were conducted using pre-defined search terms related to gambling and child abuse and neglect. We identified 601 unique references and excluded studies if they did not report original research, or did not specifically measure child maltreatment or gambling. Twelve studies that included multivariable analysis of childhood maltreatment exposure and problem gambling were identified. Six of seven studies examining childhood sexual abuse and four of five examining physical abuse showed a significant positive association between abuse and later gambling problems (odds ratios for sexual abuse 2.01–3.65; physical abuse 2.3–2.8). Both studies examining psychological maltreatment and two of three examining neglect identified positive associations with problem gambling. In most studies, risks were reduced or eliminated when controlling for other mental health disorders. The three studies measuring risk of child abuse and neglect among current problem gamblers suggest an increased risk for child physical abuse and medical conditions indicative of neglect although there is a considerable amount of variation among studies. Child abuse is associated with increased risk of gambling problems – gambling treatment providers should ask about maltreatment history as part of their clinical assessment. Problem gamblers may be more likely to physically abuse or neglect their children, but data here are more limited. Child welfare professionals should consider asking questions about parental gambling when assessing family risk.

Association of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with gambling disorder

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a frequent mental disorder with childhood onset and high persistence into adulthood. There is much evidence that ADHD increases the risk for the development of other psychiatric disorders and functional problems in several domains of everyday life. In this study, the association of ADHD with gambling disorder (GD) was investigated. 163 adult subjects suffering from GD were examined for childhood and current ADHD according to DSM-5 as well as co-morbid psychiatric disorders. Moreover, characteristics of gambling behavior have been evaluated. The prevalence of lifetime ADHD was 28.8 %, with 25.2 % of the study population presenting ADHD as a full syndrome according to DSM-5. The prevalence of co-morbid substance use disorders and adjustment disorders and cluster B personality disorders was higher in GD patients with current ADHD than in the group without. Also, an increased rate of suicide attempts was detected in gamblers with ADHD. In contrast with gamblers without ADHD, those with ADHD were reported to spend more time with gambling, a sedative effect of gambling and a faster development of GD. The high prevalence of ADHD in patients with GD indicates that childhood ADHD is a risk factor for the development of GD in later life. Moreover, treatment of patients with GD and ADHD is complicated by a high rate of co-morbid disorders. Regarding therapeutic approaches, it should be considered that functional aspects of gambling differ in GD patients with and without ADHD.

Understanding the Effects of Social Desirability on Gambling Self-Reports

Gambling self-reports may be subject to several types of bias, including social desirability bias, which may undermine their utility for capturing gambling behaviour in both research and clinical practice. Retrospective self-reports of gambling are frequently used to assess patterns of behaviour over specific periods of time, but may not be as reliable as experience sampling (ES) methods, which involve multiple assessments of gambling over the course of several days. The purpose of the current study was to examine the impact of two aspects of social desirability, impression management (IM) and self-deceptive enhancement (SDE), on the correspondence between reports of gambling assessed via ES and retrospective recall using the Gambling Timeline Followback (G-TLFB; Weinstock et al. Psychological Assessment, 16, 72–80, 2004). Participants were 81 emerging adult gamblers who completed a 30-day ES study and a retrospective assessment of their gambling. Although the overall association between social desirability and gambling reports was minimal, the correspondence between retrospective and ES reports was lower for those with higher scores on IM (for money won-lost) and SDE (for money intended to risk). Gamblers who wish to present themselves in a favourable way – either intentionally (IM) or unintentionally (SDE) – may be less reliable in their reports of gambling when asked to reflect on an extended period of time compared to when asked to provide an in-the-moment account of their gambling behaviour. These findings have important implications for understanding the circumstances under which individuals bias their retrospective self-reports of gambling and highlight the utility of more fine-grained assessments of gambling behaviour.