A research plan to define Canada’s first low-risk gambling guidelines [subscription access article]

Shawn R Currie, Low Risk Gambling Guidelines Scientific Working Group, Health Promotion International, day074, https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/day074

Summary: From a public health perspective, gambling shares many of the same characteristics as alcohol. Notably, excessive gambling is associated with many physical and emotional health harms, including depression, suicidal ideation, substance use and addiction and greater utilization of health care resources. Gambling also demonstrates a similar ‘dose-response’ relationship as alcohol—the more one gambles, the greater the likelihood of harm. Using the same collaborative, evidence-informed approach that produced Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking and Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, a research team is leading the development of the first national Low-Risk Gambling Guidelines (LRGGs) that will include quantitative thresholds for safe gambling. This paper describes the research methodology and the decision-making process for the project. The guidelines will be derived through secondary analyses of several large population datasets from Canada and other countries, including both cross-sectional and longitudinal data on over 50 000 adults. A scientific committee will pool the results and put forward recommendations for LRGGs to a nationally representative, multi-agency advisory committee for endorsement. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic attempt to generate a workable set of LRGGs from population data. Once validated, the guidelines inform public health policy and prevention initiatives and will be disseminated to addiction professionals, policy makers, regulators, communication experts and the gambling industry. The availability of the LRGGs will help the general public make well-informed decisions about their gambling activities and reduce the harms associated with gambling. Article details and access conditions

The importance of friends and family to recreational gambling, at-risk gambling, and problem gambling [open access article]

Mazar et al. (2018). BMC Public Health 18(1080) https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5988-2

Background: The variables correlated with problem gambling are routinely assessed and fairly well established. However, problem gamblers were all ‘at-risk’ and ‘recreational’ gamblers at some point. Thus, it is instructive from a prevention perspective to also understand the variables which discriminate between recreational gambling and at-risk gambling and whether they are similar or different to the ones correlated with problem gambling. This is the purpose of the present study.

Method: Between September 2013 to May 2014, a representative sample of 9,523 Massachusetts adults was administered a comprehensive survey of their past year gambling behavior and problem gambling symptomatology. Based on responses to the Problem and Pathological Gambling Measure, respondents were categorized as Non-Gamblers (2,523), Recreational Gamblers (6,271), At-Risk Gamblers (600), or Problem/Pathological Gamblers (129). With the reference category of Recreational Gambler, a series of binary logistic regressions were conducted to identify the demographic, health, and gambling related variables that differentiated Recreational Gamblers from Non-Gamblers, At-Risk-Gamblers, and Problem/Pathological Gamblers. Access full article

The total consumption model applied to gambling: Empirical validity and implications for gambling policy (open access article)

Rossow, I. (2018). Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 1-11. doi: 10.1177/1455072518794016

Aim: The total consumption model (TCM) originates from studies of the distribution of alcohol consumption and posits that there is a strong association between the total consumption and the prevalence of excessive/harmful consumption in a population. The policy implication of the TCM is that policy measures which effectively lead to a reduction of the total consumption, will most likely also reduce the extent of harmful consumption and related harms. Problem gambling constitutes a public health issue and more insight into problem gambling at the societal level and a better understanding of how public policies may impact on the harm level, are strongly needed. The aim of
this study was to review the literature pertaining to empirical validity of the TCM with regard to gambling behaviour and problem gambling and, on the basis of the literature review, to discuss the policy implications of the TCM. Methods: The study is based on a literature mapping through systematic searches in literature databases, and forward and backward reference searches.

Results: The literature searches identified a total of 12 empirical studies that examined the total consumption model or provided relevant data. All but one of these studies found empirical support for the TCM; that is, a positive association between population gambling mean and prevalence of excessive or problem gambling. Such associations were found both with cross-sectional data and with longitudinal data. Conclusion: There is a small but fairly consistent literature lending empirical support to the total consumption model. An important policy implication is that interventions which are successful in reducing overall gambling are likely also to reduce problem gambling incidence. Access full article

Genetic and environmental influences on gambling disorder liability: a replication and combined analysis of two twin studies [subscription access article]

Davis, C., Slutske, W., Martin, N., Agrawal, A., & Lynskey, M. (n.d.).  Psychological Medicine, 1(8). doi:10.1017/S0033291718002325

Background: Gambling disorder (GD), recognized in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Version 5 (DSM-5) as a behavioral addiction, is associated with a range of adverse outcomes. However, there has been little research on the genetic and environmental influences on the development of this disorder. This study reports results from the largest twin study of GD conducted to date.

Methods: Replication and combined analyses were based on samples of 3292 (mean age 31.8, born 1972–79) and 4764 (mean age 37.7, born 1964–71) male, female, and unlike-sex twin pairs from the Australian Twin Registry. Univariate biometric twin models estimated the proportion of variation in the latent GD liability that could be attributed to genetic, shared environmental, and unique environmental factors, and whether these differed quantitatively or qualitatively for men and women.

Results: In the replication study, when using a lower GD threshold, there was evidence for significant genetic (60%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 45–76%) and unique environmental (40%; 95% CI 24–56%), but not shared environmental contributions (0%; 95% CI 0–0%) to GD liability; this did not significantly differ from the original study. In the combined analysis, higher GD thresholds (such as one consistent with DSM-5 GD) and a multiple threshold definitions of GD yielded similar results. There was no evidence for quantitative or qualitative sex differences in the liability for GD.

Conclusions: Twin studies of GD are few in number but they tell a remarkably similar story: substantial genetic and unique environmental influences, with no evidence for shared environmental contributions or sex differences in GD liability. Article details and access conditions

Online gambling: Addicted to addiction / Tim Cowen and Phillip Blond [open access e-publication]

[From the executive summary] In May 2018, the Government announced the introduction of a £2 limit on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). ResPublica campaigned for this in the 2017 Paper, ‘Wheel of Misfortune’, which demonstrates the impact these machines have upon gamblers at risk of developing a problem, and indicates the more general problem for society at large. Following on from this, ResPublica published the report ‘Watershed’, which has argued for government to close the legislative loopholes that exist in gambling advertising. This report builds on the recommendations in the previous ResPublica reports, developing a growing package of reforms to make the gambling industry more sustainable and responsible. Access e-publication online

About the Campaign for Fairer Gambling
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to ensure delivery and enforcement of the licensing objectives of the 2005 Gambling Act, including preventing gambling from being a source of disorder or crime, ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

About ResPublica
The ResPublica Trust (ResPublica) is an independent non-partisan think tank. Through our research, policy innovation and programmes, we seek to establish a new economic, social and cultural settlement. In order to heal the long-term rifts in our country, we aim to combat the concentration of wealth and power by distributing ownership and agency to all, and by re-instilling culture and virtue across our economy and society.

The association between demographic factors, mental health and gambling behaviour / Catharine Bregazzi [open access thesis]

Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the BA Hons in
Psychology at Dublin Business School, School of Arts, Dublin.

Abstract: Gambling behaviour and its impact on mental health is an area of great interest, particularly with the growing rate of gambling participation. The current study aims to extend previous research by investigating differences in Mental Health (Depression, Anxiety and Stress) between Non-Gamblers, In-Person Gamblers and Online Gamblers and the association between Gender, Employment Status, Age and the Likelihood to Gamble. This was investigated through a quantitative, cross sectional survey design. Volunteer participants were made up of 155 individuals (females=101, males=54) and ranged in age from 19 to 74 years old. A single online 92 item survey was used in order to gather data. Analysis showed no significant difference for differences in Mental Health between Non-Gamblers, In-Person Gamblers and Online Gamblers while the association between Gender, Employment Status, Age and the Likelihood to Gamble was partially supported. More research would need to be conducted to further investigate these results. Access thesis online from the Dublin Business School

How gambling harms experienced by Pacific people in New Zealand amplify when they are culture‑related [open access article]

Kolandai‑Matchett, K., Langham, E., Bellringer, M. & Ah‑Honi Siitia, P. (2017). Asian Journal of Gambling Issues and Public Health 7(5). doi 10.1186/s40405-017-0026-3

Abstract:Pacific people in New Zealand are a minority ethnic population identified in national prevalence studies as having the highest risk of developing gambling problems. As earlier studies identified some links between culture and gambling for this population, our study aimed to deepen understanding of these links and their role in explaining the disproportionate gambling harms experienced by Pacific people. To achieve this aim we employed intersectionality as a theoretical framework to explore the culture-gambling intersection for this population group. We analysed data from a subset of focus groups conducted for a broad study of gambling harms in New Zealand. The subset was selected based on the presence of individuals knowledgeable about Pacific people’s gambling behaviours, including staff from Pacific problem gambling treatment services who provided examples from a cultural perspective. We identified themes at a latent level via an interpretive process to identify underlying cultural contexts of gambling harms. Findings indicated that whilst harms experienced by Pacific people were similar to those identified amongst the general population, the cultural contexts in which some harms manifested were complex. This paper contributes to the existing knowledge base about gambling harms for Pacific people in relation to six culture-gambling intersecting themes that emerged from the data: collectivism, gift-giving, gambling-based fundraising, patriarchy, beliefs about blessings, and sports celebrities. Findings are discussed in relation to the current knowledge of gambling and conceptualisations of gambling harm within Pacific communities. Implications for culturally appropriate harm minimisation strategies and prevention interventions for this population are suggested. Access full article