Player Behavioral Tracking and Personalized Feedback in Online Gambling: Implications for Prevention and Treatment of Problem Gambling (full text)

Edgerton, J. D., Biegun, J., & Roberts, L. W.

In recent years, participation in online gambling has been growing at a significant rate, as have concerns over its connection to problem gambling. The relationship between online access and problem gambling is complex. On one hand the nature of online gambling appears to invite potential for problematic gambling; on the other hand it is also well-suited to the incorporation of sophisticated RG tools that can help prevent excessive gambling. This article provides a brief overview of research on the efficacy of several increasingly available RG tools – limit-setting, in game “pop-up” messages and player behavioral tracking and personalized feedback – and the potential of these tools, used in concert, to increase gambler’s self-awareness and self-monitoring to reduce risk across a broad spectrum of gambling involvement. In addition to weighing the growing evidence for the preventative utility of such RG strategies, we also consider the burgeoning interest in their therapeutic/clinical potential, both as part of self-guided or therapist-assisted online interventions and as adjunct to conventional in-person clinical services. We conclude that, limitations notwithstanding, the evidence for online RG tools that incorporate player behavioral tracking and personalized feedback is quite encouraging when it comes to reducing problem gambling risk; and that, although less far along, research on the treatment potential of interventions incorporating such technology is also promising and merits further study.

Neurocognitive and clinical correlates of gambling behavior based on mode of gambling

Leppink EW, Blum AW, Chamberlain S, Grant JE.

BACKGROUND: Gambling opportunities have expanded greatly in recent years, with ever-increasing availability via the internet as well as land-based options (eg, casinos). Although some research suggests that internet gamblers have higher rates of disordered gambling than land-based only gamblers, the clinical and cognitive importance of these findings is unknown.

METHODS: We recruited 542 young adults (age 18 to 29) and compared land- based only (n = 385 [70.8%]) and mixed internet/land-based gamblers (LBGs) (n = 157 [28.9%]) on clinical and cognitive measures (gambling behavior, other potentially addictive behaviors, psychiatric comorbidity, self-report measures of impulsivity, and neurocognitive functioning).

RESULTS: Mixed internet/LBGs were more likely to be disordered gamblers and have worse gambling urges and behaviors, more depressive symptoms, and greater rates of internet addiction; these differences were of medium to large effect size. The 2 groups did not exhibit any significant differences on cognitive tasks assessing cognitive flexibility, motor impulsivity, or spatial working memory.

CONCLUSIONS: This research suggests that mixed internet/LBGs and land-based only gamblers differ on important clinical features but not in terms of neuropsychological functioning. Whether subtyping based on mode of gambling could have utility for treatment interventions awaits future research.

The Relationship Between Impulsivity And Problem Gambling In Adolescence

Secades-Villa R, Martínez-Loredo V, Grande-Gosende A and Fernández-Hermida JR

Gambling has become one of the most frequently reported addictive behaviors among young people. Understanding risk factors associated with the onset or maintenance of gambling problems in adolescence has implications for its prevention and treatment. The main aim of the present study was to examine the potential relationships between impulsivity and problem gambling in adolescence. Participants were 874 high school students (average age: 15 years old) who were surveyed to provide data on gambling and impulsivity. Self-reported gambling behavior was assessed using the South Oaks Gambling Screen – Revised for Adolescents (SOGS-RA) and impulsivity was measured using the Impulsive Sensation Seeking Questionnaire (ZKPQ), the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11-A), and a delay discounting task. The data were analyzed using both a prospective-longitudinal and a cross-sectional design. In the longitudinal analyses, results showed that the impulsivity subscale of the ZKPQ increased the risk of problem gambling (p =.003). In the cross-sectional analyses, all the impulsivity measures were higher in at-risk/problem gamblers than in non-problem gamblers (p = .04; .03 and .01 respectively). These findings further support the relationship between impulsivity and gambling in adolescence. Moreover, our findings suggest a bidirectional relationship between impulsivity and problem gambling in adolescence. These results have consequences for the development of prevention and treatment programs for adolescents with gambling problems.

Gambling machine annexes as enabling spaces for addictive engagement

Adams, P. J., & Wiles, J.

The widespread proliferation of electronic gambling machines and improvements to their design have contributed to rising levels of gambling-related harm including harms associated with addictive behaviour and other impacts on health and wellbeing. Research into their addictive potential has focused mainly on the interface between gamblers and the machines themselves. We shift the focus onto the spatial contexts, the rooms and the venues, in which gambling machines are positioned. By examining a series of common layouts we identify the division of venues into two main areas: one for the main social activities of the venue (the “main hall”) and the other a partitioned area (the “annex”) in which gambling machines are tightly clumped in ways that discourage social interaction. Other features of the annex that encourage uninterrupted and solitary play include the absence of tables to socialize around, dimmed lighting and entry pathways that minimize scrutiny. We argue that these features promote a style of play more oriented towards heavy and problematic gambling. We also explore explanations for the nature of these annexes and discuss implications for public health.

Adams, P. J., & Wiles, J. (2017). Gambling machine annexes as enabling spaces for addictive engagement. Health & Place, 43, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2016.11.001