National market protectionist gambling policies in the European Union: The Finnish gambling monopoly merger as a case in point.

Available online – Policy paper published in the Journal of Gambling Issues.

Abstract: A rapidly growing globalized and digitalized gambling industry has compelled European jurisdictions to take action in order to secure some level of gambling market control, to secure public funds from gambling, and to protect citizens from gambling-related harm. This study concerns the market protectionist endeavour to merge three gambling operators into one state-owned monopoly in Finland in 2017. The justification of the systemic change is analysed in key policy documents and media reporting that discerns the political narratives that nudged the monopoly merger from the idea stage to its completion. Within the narratives, the merger is presented as necessary due to the threats of market intrusion by foreign gambling operators and the likelihood of an internal system implosion framed by European Union (EU) law. The worries expressed in the studied materials plug into a general zeitgeist of globalization. The justifications of the systemic change presuppose the inevitable determination of the change and an innate and constant human desire to gamble. Critical views on the merger were introduced in the media at a late stage, stressing the role of the media as a facilitator and manufacturer of political consent. The study demonstrates how market protectionist justifications can, through the maintenance of a regulated gambling market, assure preservation of national public funds obtained from gambling in the EU. The official gambling policy objective of securing public health played a secondary role in the process. Full article

Reference: Selin, J., Hellman, M. & Lerkkanen, T. (2019). National market protectionist gambling policies in the European Union: The Finnish gambling monopoly merger as a case in point. Journal of Gambling Issues, 41. Retrieved from

Measuring gambling knowledge in adolescents: The construction of a new short scale for research and practice.

Available online Research article from Mental Health and Addiction Research via Open Access Text.

Abstract: Several studies show that many adolescents gamble and a considerable proportion of them develop pathological gambling behavior. It has been shown that adolescents often have erroneous gambling knowledge, for example they are not aware of the technical definition of gambling activities or perceive gambling as a social and recreational activity. Nevertheless, nowadays there is a lack of measurement tools with adequate psychometric properties to assess gambling knowledge in adolescents. For this reason, the aim of the present study was to develop a new instrument able to evaluate this specific construct with a sample of Italian adolescents, the Gambling Related Knowledge Scale – For Adolescents (GRKS-A). In order to develop the scale and test its psychometric properties, 445 Italian adolescents participated in the study. The final version of the scale was composed of 8 items. Analyses confirmed the adequacy of the one-factor model and the reliability of this short scale. Support for the validity was also provided by obtaining significant and negative correlations with cognitive distortions, gambling economic perception, and gambling frequency. Moreover, the additional predictive power of GRKS-A on gambling frequency – with respect to the other variables – was demonstrated. Overall, findings support the suitability of the GRKS-A to measure gambling-related knowledge in research and practice involving adolescents. Full article

Reference: Donati, M.A., Beccari, C., Biganzoli, A., Tadini, M., Capitanucci, D., Smaniotto, R., & Primi, C. (2019). Measuring gambling knowledge in adolescents: The construction of a new short scale for research and practice. Mental Health and Addiction Research, 4. doi: 10.15761/MHAR.1000173

The treatment of gambling disorder: A comprehensive (socio-psychological-neurobiological) explanation and therapy model?

Available online working paper made available via the Social Science Open Access Repository.

Summary: In this theoretical work, we present the clinical picture of pathological gambling, an etiological explanatory model and resulting therapeutic implications. Social, psychological and physiological factors are included. The “addiction model” also distinguishes between factors relevant to the onset and continuation of disturbed gambling behavior. Multifactorial causes must be postulated in the “entry phase” of the behavior. During the actual “addiction phase“, the self-perpetuating disturbed gambling behavior is characterized by a strong mental dependence and a nearly autonomously triggered addiction behavior (loss of control) associated with structural changes in the deeper brain areas of the „reward system“. There is an “irresistible urge” to continue gambling, upheld not least by a dominance of gambling behavior in the reward system and the accompanying dysfunction of this area of the brain.

At the beginning of therapy, the focus lies on the addictive behavior itself. The symptoms that developed last are the ones that are first incorporated into the therapy consideration, whereby the therapeutic goals are to be set in a certain order: (a) Motivation, withdrawal symptoms after the patient stopped gambling, (b) insight into the disease (do not deny further) and its acceptance, (c) consolidation of the abstinence through a treatment of the causes of disease development. Dependence means not having sufficient alternatives. The reconstruction of the reward system and the development of a wide range of varied alternatives are an important prerequisite for avoiding relapse and achieving a balanced and satisfied way of life. Eliminating the dominance of gambling in the reward system and strongly anchoring the desired potently rewardable alternatives in behavior is associated with significant psychological and physiological resistance. The adrenaline rush of gambling is not easily compensated and cannot be replaced with lukewarm water or realistic thinking. Problems of implementing desired behavioral changes have not yet been sufficiently taken into account and there is a lack of necessary research. Are there any obligatory treatment factors? Full article

Reference: Bachmann, M., Bachmann, A.A., & Frensemeier, S. (2019). The treatment of gambling disorder: A comprehensive (socio-psychological-neurobiological) explanation and therapy model? Retrieved from ssoar-61824-8

Randomized controlled trial of an Internet intervention for problem gambling provided with or without access to an Internet intervention for co-occurring mental health distress.

Available online article from Internet Interventions via ScienceDirect.

Background and aims
The current randomized controlled trial tested whether there was benefit to providing an online gambling intervention and a separate self-help mental health intervention for anxiety and depression (i.e. MoodGYM) (G + MH), compared to only a gambling intervention (G only) among people with co-occurring gambling problems and mental health distress. The primary outcome of interest was improvement in gambling outcomes. Secondary analyses also tested for the impact of the combined intervention on depression and anxiety outcomes.
Participants who were concerned about their gambling were recruited to help evaluate an online intervention for gamblers. Those who met criteria for problem gambling were randomized to receive either the G only or the G + MH intervention. Participants were also assessed for current mental health distress at baseline, with three quarters (n = 214) reporting significant current distress and form the sample for this study. Participants were followed-up at 3- and 6-months to assess changes in gambling status, and improvements in depression and anxiety.
Follow-up rates were poor (47% completed at least one follow-up). While there were significant reductions in gambling outcomes, as well as on measures of current depression and anxiety, there was no significant difference in outcomes between participants receiving the G only versus the G + MH intervention.
Discussion and conclusion
There does not appear to be a benefit to providing access to an additional online mental health intervention to our online gambling intervention, at least among participants who are concerned about their gambling. Full article

Reference: Cunningham, J.A., Hodgins, D.C., Mackenzie, C.S., Godinhoa, A., Schell, C., Kushnirc, V., & Hendershot, C.S. (2019). Randomized controlled trial of an Internet intervention for problem gambling provided with or without access to an Internet intervention for co-occurring mental health distress. Internet Interventions, 17. Retrieved from

Precious and worthless: A comparative perspective on loot boxes and gambling.

Available online article from the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology made available via the University of Minnesota Law School.

Abstract: Odds-based microtransactions in video games, or “loot boxes,” offer users a chance to get special game items for actual money (i.e., legal tender), as opposed to acquiring this “loot” through in-game achievements. This feature provides revenue for game developers and allows users to acquire items that would otherwise require hours of gameplay. But loot boxes threaten to degrade game design and foist addictive mechanics on vulnerable users. Loot-box purchasers, much like pathological gamblers placing a wager, report an initial rush when opening a loot box and then a wave of regret and shame. This problem is especially acute in underage consumers who spend thousands of dollars to gain a desired item. Governments are aware of this disturbing trend and are attempting to regulate or outright ban the practice.
Present attempts to constrain game developers are predicated on a finding that selling random virtual items is in fact gambling. That approach is flawed. Loot boxes are unlikely to meet the legal requirements of gambling on account of two factors: users are guaranteed to receive at least one item and all items offered have no tangible value. Moreover, prohibiting the practice may encourage political actors to further censor video games, a popular scapegoat following school shootings and other tragic events. While loot boxes may not constitute gambling, the troublingly opaque nature of loot box odds warrants intervention. Accordingly, this Essay offers a novel dual-pronged transparency-based solution that avoids an outright ban on the activity. First, the odds of obtaining specific loot should be disclosed to consumers. Second, regulators should require game developers to rate such games as appropriate for adults, not children.
Available online

Reference: Moshirnia, A.V. (2018). Precious and worthless: A comparative perspective on Loot Boxes and gambling. Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology, 20(1), 77-114. Retrieved from:

The Same or Different? Convergence of Skin Gambling and Other Gambling Among Children

Available online – article from the Journal of Gambling Studies via SpringerLink.

Abstract: There is increasing attention on the introduction of gambling-like practices within video games. Termed convergence, this has been explored from the viewpoint of the product, examining similarities in game/gambling mechanics. Understanding convergence of practice is essential to map the epidemiology of these behaviours, especially among children. This paper focuses on the betting of skins within video games to explore co-occurrence with other forms of gambling among British children aged 11–16. Analysing the British Youth Gambling Survey showed that 39% of children who bet on skins in the past month had also gambled on other activities. Betting on skins and other forms of gambling increased with age and concordance of skin gambling/betting was greatest for those who also gambled online. Among gamblers, those who bet skins had higher rates of at-risk and problem gambling than those who did not (23% vs. 8%), though they had a greater breath of gambling involvement. Skin gambling alone was not significantly associated with at-risk gambling when other forms of gambling activity were taken into account. Skin betting and gambling on other activities cluster together, especially where the medium underpinning the behaviours is the same. Children who engage in both skin gambling/betting and other forms of gambling should be considered at-risk for the experience of harms because of their heightened engagement in gambling and gambling-like activities. Access article online

Reference: Wardle, H. (2019). The Same or Different? Convergence of Skin Gambling and Other Gambling Among Children. Journal of Gambling Studies. doi:

Evolution of online gambling practices in France over the past 5 years: lessons for the regulation and prevention of problem gambling.

Available online – Slide presentation by Jean-Michel Costes (French Monitoring Centre on Gambling , France) given at the 6th International Conference on Pathological Gambling and Behavioral Addictions Warsaw, 19-20 November 2018.

Online gambling in France in 2017
Evolution 2012/2017
Conclusions and perspectives
Available online

Reference: Costes, J. (2018, November). Evolution of online gambling practices in France over the past 5 years: lessons for the regulation and prevention of problem gambling. Paper presented at the 6th International Conference on Pathological Gambling and Behavioral Addictions, Warsaw, Poland.