The effects of alcohol expectancy and intake on slot machine gambling behavior (open access)

By Dominic Sagoe, Rune Aune Mentzoni, Tony Leino, Helge Molde, Sondre Haga, Mikjel Fredericson Gjernes, Daniel Hanss, and Ståle Pallesen.

Background and aims: Although alcohol intake and gambling often co-occur in related venues, there is conflicting evidence regarding the effects of alcohol expectancy and intake on gambling behavior. We therefore conducted an experimental investigation of the effects of alcohol expectancy and intake on slot machine gambling behavior.
Methods: Participants were 184 (females = 94) individuals [age range: 18–40 (mean = 21.9) years] randomized to four independent conditions differing in information/expectancy about beverage (told they received either alcohol or placebo) and beverage intake [actually ingesting low (target blood alcohol concentration [BAC] < 0.40 mg/L) vs. moderate (target BAC > 0.40 mg/L; ≈0.80 mg/L) amounts of alcohol]. All participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing demographic variables, subjective intoxication, alcohol effects (stimulant and sedative), and gambling factors (behavior and problems, evaluation, and beliefs). Participants also gambled on a simulated slot machine.
Results: A significant main effect of beverage intake on subjective intoxication and alcohol effects was detected as expected. No significant main or interaction effects were detected for number of gambling sessions, bet size and variation, remaining credits at termination, reaction time, and game evaluation.
Conclusion: Alcohol expectancy and intake do not affect gambling persistence, dissipation of funds, reaction time, or gambling enjoyment.

Built-in bad luck: Evidence of near-miss outcomes by design in scratch cards (open access)

By Madiston Stange, Dan G. Brown, Kevin Harrigan, and Michael Dixon.

Scratch cards are a pervasive form of gambling in the Canadian marketplace. Despite their widespread appeal, we are only beginning to understand the influence of their structural characteristics on the player. The most widely studied of these characteristics is the near-miss, a game outcome in which the player gets two of the three needed symbols to win a jackpot prize. Although other authors have noted the existence of these outcomes in scratch cards, no systematic investigation has been undertaken to understand their occurrence in these games. We present the results of an analysis to determine the frequency of these outcomes using two samples (sample A, n = 41; sample B, n = 61) of a popular scratch card game available in Ontario, Canada. Our results suggest that certain scratch card games may be designed to include more pairs of jackpot symbols (i.e., more near-miss outcomes) than any other symbol pair. In the game that we analyzed, the top prize symbol occurred more often than any other symbol and appeared to be manipulated to appear in clusters of two, creating many near-miss outcomes to the jackpot prize. This work has strong implications for the study of gambling behaviour, responsible gambling strategies, as well as for the scientific investigation of scratch card games.

A prospective follow-up study of younger and older subjects with pathological gambling

By Donald W. Black, William Coryell, Brett McCormick, Martha Shaw, and Jeff Allen.

Pathological gambling (PG) is a common and costly public health problem associated with impaired quality of life and high suicide rates. Despite its frequency in the general population, PG course is poorly understood in older adults who are especially vulnerable to its devastating consequences. We enrolled 175 subjects in a longitudinal study of gambling behavior: our case group of 53 older adults with PG (≥ 60 years), and two comparison groups including 72 younger adults with PG (< 40 years) and 50 older adults without PG (≥ 60 years). Subjects with PG met lifetime criteria for DSM-IV PG and had a South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) and National Opinion Research Center DSM Screen for Gambling Problems (NODS) scores ≥ 5. Subjects were evaluated at intake and reassessed every 6 months and drop outs were replaced. Follow-up lasted a mean (SD) of 2.6 (1.4) years. At intake older PGs were more likely to be female, Caucasian, divorced, and to have a lower level of education. Older and younger PGs were similar in gambling severity, but older PGs were more likely to have sought PG treatment. Older PGs had lower rates of lifetime drug use disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They preferred slots, were more likely to receive PG treatment, and were less likely to discontinue participation in the study. Week by week gambling activity levels showed a significant general downward movement for older and younger PGs, although there were no differences between the groups. Elders without PG had no change in their level of gambling activity. We conclude that younger and older PGs moved toward a reduced level of gambling activity during follow-up. Our data challenge the notion that PG is chronic and progressive.

Problem Gambling and Family Violence in Help-Seeking Populations: Co-occurrence, Impact and Coping (full text)

By Maria Bellringer, Katie Palmer du Preez, Janet Pearson, Nick Garrett, Jane Koziol-McLain, Denise Wilson, Max Abbott.

Four hundred and fifty-four clients of problem gambling treatment services took part in a short survey on gambling and family/whānau violence and abuse. There were 370 gamblers and 84 affected others (e.g. partners, other family members and friends). The survey took place from June 2013 to March 2015.

The purpose of the research was to identify the level of family/whānau violence and abuse in people seeking help for problem gambling, and to increase our understanding of these issues. A wide definition of family/whānau violence was used, which included physical violence and coercive control (most often thought of as violence), as well as psychological and emotional abuse (more often thought of as conflict), and sexual abuse.

Summary continues here

Bellringer, Maria, Katie Palmer du Preez, Janet Pearson, Nick Garrett, Jane Koziol-McLain, Denise Wilson, and Max Abbott. “Problem Gambling and Family Violence in Help-Seeking Populations: Co-Occurrence, Impact and Coping.” Wellington: Ministry of Health, November 4, 2016.

Episodic and Binge Gambling: An Exploration and Preliminary Quantitative Study (open access)

By S. Cowlishaw, E. Nespoli, J.K. Jebadurai, N. Smith, and H. Bowden-Jones.

The DSM-5 includes provisions for episodic forms of gambling disorder, with such changes aligned with earlier accounts of potential binge gambling behaviours. However, there is little research that indicates the utility of these classifications of episodic or binge gambling, and this study considered their characteristics in a clinical sample. It involved administration of a new binge gambling screening tool, along with routine measures, to n = 214 patients entering a specialist treatment clinic for gambling problems. Results indicated that episodic gambling was common in this clinical context, with 28 and 32% of patients reporting gambling episodes that were (a) regular and alternating, and (b) irregular and intermittent, respectively. These patterns were distinguished by factors including associations with covariates that indicated differences from continuous gamblers. For example, the irregular episodic gamblers, but not the regular pattern, demonstrated lower levels of problem gambling severity and comorbidity. Rates of potential binge gambling, which was defined in terms of additional criteria, were around 4% and numbers were insufficient for comparable analyses. The findings support inclusion of episodic forms of gambling disorder in the DSM-5, but highlight the need for improved recognition and research on heterogeneous forms of episodic gambling.

Gambling and its impact on family: A narrative review

By Shaila Hussain and Shahid Muhammad.

Gambling addiction is a primary chronic disease of brain reward, incentive, memory and interrelated circuitry. The perception of addiction has often been associated with substance abuse. This article aims to highlight some of the psychological, mental health and wellbeing impact gambling has on lifestyle and family. Almost 70% of the population in the UK participates in some form of gambling, and an estimated 250 000–310 000 people live with gambling issues. There are several factors that encourage an individual to gamble, including: stimulating the mind; escape; winning; reward; coping; excitement; prompting social interaction; exploration; financial gains; and boredom. The complexity of gambling behaviour can compromise wellbeing and lead to public health crises. Early intervention in treating gamblers can support the mental health and wellbeing of the addict and family.

Hussain, Shaila, and Shahid Muhammad. “Gambling and Its Impact on Family: A Narrative Review.” British Journal of Mental Health Nursing 6, no. 3 (May 2, 2017): 128–33. doi:10.12968/bjmh.2017.6.3.128.

Similarities and Differences between Individuals Seeking Treatment for Gambling Problems vs. Alcohol and Substance Use Problems in Relation to the Progressive Model of Self-stigma (open access)

By Belle Gavriel-Fried and Tal Rabayov.

Aims: People with gambling as well as substance use problems who are exposed to public stigmatization may internalize and apply it to themselves through a mechanism known as self-stigma. This study implemented the Progressive Model for Self-Stigma which consists four sequential interrelated stages: awareness, agreement, application and harm on three groups of individuals with gambling, alcohol and other substance use problems. It explored whether the two guiding assumptions of this model (each stage is precondition for the following stage which are trickle-down in nature, and correlations between proximal stages should be larger than correlations between more distant stages) would differentiate people with gambling problems from those with alcohol and other substance use problems in terms of their patterns of self-stigma and in terms of the stages in the model.

Method: 37 individuals with gambling problems, 60 with alcohol problems and 51 with drug problems who applied for treatment in rehabilitation centers in Israel in 2015–2016 were recruited. They completed the Self-stigma of Mental Illness Scale-Short Form which was adapted by changing the term “mental health” to gambling, alcohol or drugs, and the DSM-5-diagnostic criteria for gambling, alcohol or drug disorder.

Results: The assumptions of the model were broadly confirmed: a repeated measures ANCOVA revealed that in all three groups there was a difference between first two stages (aware and agree) and the latter stages (apply and harm). In addition, the gambling group differed from the drug use and alcohol groups on the awareness stage: individuals with gambling problems were less likely to be aware of stigma than people with substance use or alcohol problems.

Conclusion: The internalization of stigma among individuals with gambling problems tends to work in a similar way as for those with alcohol or drug problems. The differences between the gambling group and the alcohol and other substance groups at the aware stage may suggest that public stigma with regard to any given addictive disorder may be a function of the type of addiction (substance versus behavioral).

Gavriel-Fried, B., & Rabayov, T. (2017). Similarities and Differences between Individuals Seeking Treatment for Gambling Problems vs. Alcohol and Substance Use Problems in Relation to the Progressive Model of Self-stigma. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.