Prevention paradox logic and problem gambling: Does low-risk gambling impose a greater burden of harm than high-risk gambling? (Open access)

By Paul Delfabbro and Daniel King.

Background and aims: The aim of this paper is to examine the evidence and arguments in favor of prevention paradox (PP) logic in the context of problem gambling. Evidence from recent studies of gambling and the distribution of harm across lower and higher risk gamblers is reviewed to examine the contention that the absolute burden of harm is greater in low-risk (LR) gamblers than the problem gamblers.
Methods: The review examines a number of methodological and conceptual concerns about existing evidence in support of the PP.
Results: The principal problems identified include the misclassification of LR gamblers; the use of binary scoring method that understates the frequency of harms in high-risk populations; a tendency to confuse behavior and harm; and the use of potentially overly inclusive definitions of harm with low thresholds of severity.
Discussion and conclusions: This paper makes a number of recommendations for enhancement of this area of research, including the use of clear definitions of harm and LR behavior and a greater focus on harm with material impacts on people’s quality of life.

Moderate Risk and Problem Slot Machine Gamblers: A Typology of Gambling-Related Cognitions

By June St Clair Buchanan and Gregory Elliott.

Gambling has traditionally been a part of the national psyche in Australia. In more recent times, however, attitudes in much of the community are changing, with the result that governments are widely expected to develop increasingly restrictive public policies related to electronic gaming machines (EGMs). The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationships between government, business, and the broader community in the context of the gambling industry in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, and to explore the political and social policy implications of reconciling these competing stakeholder interests. The research draws on the results of 38 face-to-face interviews with key stakeholders in Nevada and NSW conducted during 2005 and 2006, with an additional two interviews in 2013 in NSW. Furthermore, 47 newspaper articles were analyzed to further identify key issues. Against a background of widespread community skepticism, we argue that governments have an important role in setting public policies and striking the appropriate balance between protecting those who have, or are susceptible to, gambling problems and the majority of people who play EGMs without any ensuing problems. However, businesses also have an important contribution to make by being proactively socially responsible, thereby increasing their legitimacy and negating the need for further government interventions.

Chinese Beliefs in Luck are Linked to Gambling Problems via Strengthened Cognitive Biases: A Mediation Test

By Matthew S. M. Lim and Robert D. Rogers.

Problematic patterns of gambling and their harms are known to have culturally specific expressions. For ethnic Chinese people, patterns of superstitious belief in this community appear to be linked to the elevated rates of gambling-related harms; however, little is known about the mediating psychological mechanisms. To address this issue, we surveyed 333 Chinese gamblers residing internationally and used a mediation analysis to explore how gambling-related cognitive biases, gambling frequency and variety of gambling forms (‘scope’) mediate the association between beliefs in luck and gambling problems. We found that cognitive biases and scope were significant mediators of this link but that the former is a stronger mediator than the latter. The mediating erroneous beliefs were not specific to any particular type of cognitive bias. These results suggest that Chinese beliefs in luck are expressed as gambling cognitive biases that increase the likelihood of gambling problems, and that biases that promote gambling (and its harms) are best understood within their socio-cultural context.

Financial recovery from problem gambling: problem gamblers’ experiences of social assistance and other financial support

By Maria Heiskanen.

The objective of this article is to understand problem gamblers’ experiences of recovery from financial difficulties caused by problem gambling. Specifically, financial social assistance from public services is considered. A sample of 17 interviews with Finnish self-identified, treatment-seeking problem gamblers from various financial positions was analyzed qualitatively using thematic content analysis. The analysis revealed four themes. The first theme examines how the financial concerns of problem gamblers were left unaddressed by treatment professionals. The second theme discusses the rationalizations behind not applying for or not receiving financial social assistance from public services. The reasons behind not applying for financial social assistance were related to financial stability and perceived pride derived from surviving independently (loss of pride when not being able to survive independently). Not receiving assistance despite applying for it was mostly because of their income having been assessed as adequate by the social services. Third theme examines receiving financial social assistance during, or after, problematic gambling. Participants living on welfare often spent their benefits on gambling in the hopes of an increased income. Recovering lower-income problem gamblers also received financial social assistance for living expenses or for treatment. Fourth, non-governmental and more controlling forms of financial support were (1) financial assistance within private safety nets, (2) support for over-indebtedness from an NGO, or (3) private person/official authority taking control over problem gamblers’ financial matters. The socio-economic background factors are important to address when designing financial and other support for problem gamblers. The results of this study provide useful information for future survey studies of the topic.

Telecommunications Network Measurements of Online Gambling Behavior in Switzerland: A Feasibility Study

Background: Methodological shortcomings of gambling studies relying on self-report or on data sets derived from gambling operators tend to result in biased conclusions. The aim of this study was to analyze online gambling behavior using a novel network database approach. Methods: From October 13 to October 26, 2014, telecommunications network data from a major telecommunications provider in Switzerland were analyzed. Netflows between mobile devices and a poker operator were quantified to measure the gambling duration and session number. Results: Time spent gambling during night and working hours was compared between devices with longest (red group), intermediate (orange group), and shortest gambling time (green group). Online gambling behavior differed depending on overall gambling time, F (2, 3,143). Night and working hours gambling was the highest in the red group (53%), compared to the orange (50.1%) and the green groups (41.5%). Post hoc analyses indicated significant differences between the orange and green groups (p < 0.05). No differences were observed between the red and orange groups (p = 0.850), and the red and green groups (p = 0.053). Conclusions: On mobile devices, distinct gambling patterns were observed depending on the overall gambling time. This methodology could also be used to investigate online gaming, social media use, and online pornography.

Food Addiction in Gambling Disorder: Frequency and Clinical Outcomes

By Susana Jiménez-Murcia, Roser Granero, Ines Wolz, Marta Baño, Gemma Mestre-Bach, Trevor Steward, Zaida Agüera, Anke Hinney, Carlos Diéguez, Felipe F. Casanueva, Ashley N. Gearhardt, Anders Hakansson, José M. Menchón, and Fernando Fernández-Aranda.

Background: The food addiction (FA) model is receiving increasing interest from the scientific community. Available empirical evidence suggests that this condition may play an important role in the development and course of physical and mental health conditions such as obesity, eating disorders, and other addictive behaviors. However, no epidemiological data exist on the comorbidity of FA and gambling disorder (GD), or on the phenotype for the co-occurrence of GD+FA.

Objectives: To determine the frequency of the comorbid condition GD+FA, to assess whether this comorbidity features a unique clinical profile compared to GD without FA, and to generate predictive models for the presence of FA in a GD sample.

Method: Data correspond to N = 458 treatment-seeking patients who met criteria for GD in a hospital unit specialized in behavioral addictions.

Results: Point prevalence for FA diagnosis was 9.2%. A higher ratio of FA was found in women (30.5%) compared to men (6.0%). Lower FA prevalence was associated with older age. Patients with high FA scores were characterized by worse psychological state, and the risk of a FA diagnosis was increased in patients with high scores in the personality traits harm avoidance and self-transcendence, and low scores in cooperativeness (R2 = 0.18).

Conclusion: The co-occurrence of FA in treatment-seeking GD patients is related to poorer emotional and psychological states. GD treatment interventions and related behavioral addictions should consider potential associations with problematic eating behavior and aim to include techniques that aid patients in better managing this behavior.

The Effect of Casino Proximity on Lottery Sales: Evidence from Maryland

By Will E. Cummings, Douglas M. Walker, Chad D. Cotti.

The continued expansion of the casino industry has caused increasing concern regarding the cannibalization of other industries, and in particular, state lotteries. For example, Maryland Lottery sales flattened shortly after casinos began opening in the state. Although previous papers have found that casinos and lotteries have a negative relationship with each other, no previous research has analyzed the impact of casino proximity on lottery sales or has examined the relationship between casinos and different types of lottery games. In this paper, we examine ZIP code-level monthly lottery sales data from Maryland between July 2009 and February 2014, in order to test the impact of casino proximity on lottery sales, by type of game. Our findings indicate that aggregate lottery sales decline more in closer proximity to casinos, but that casinos affect different lottery products differently. We discuss the consumer behavior and public finance implications of the findings. (JEL H27, H4, L83)

The “Walk of Shame”: a Qualitative Study of the Influences of Negative Stereotyping of Problem Gambling on Gambling Attitudes and Behaviours

By Helen E. Miller, Samantha Thomas.

Problem gambling is known to be associated with significant stigma, but there is limited research on the negative stereotypes that underpin this judgement. Understanding the stereotypes that contribute to the stigmatisation of problem gambling may help to identify new approaches to reducing gambling stigma. Using data collected during 100 in-depth qualitative interviews with gamblers in Victoria, Australia, we explored factors which underpin negative stereotypes about people with gambling problems, the influence of negative stereotypes on behaviours and attitudes and differences in attitudes to different gambling products. Participants perceived that people with gambling problems were lacked responsibility and control, as were “lazy”, “stupid” and “greedy.” Electronic gambling machine (EGM) gamblers were particularly stigmatised. Negative stereotypes focusing on personal responsibility led to feelings of guilt and shame in people with gambling problems, as well as increased social isolation, and also impacted on moderate-risk gamblers, who contrasted their own behaviour with a stereotyped idea of a person with a gambling problem. Participants linked stereotyped portrayals of problem gambling to discussions of the gambling industry, which they perceived focused on control and responsibility, and the media, which they perceived emphasised extreme negative consequences from gambling. This study suggests that negative stereotypes focusing on personal responsibility for gambling problems are a factor leading to the stigmatisation of people with gambling problems.