When losing money and time feels good: The paradoxical role of flow in gambling [open-access article].

Abstract: Despite being well-known for its positive consequences, the psychological state of flow has raised some concerns. In this research, we advanced our understanding of the relationships that flow has in the context of online gambling. Across two studies, in which participants played blackjack and slots, we demonstrated that flow is associated with an increase in the amount of time spent gambling. Flow is also related to an increase in the amount of money spent. We demonstrated that the reason that flow increases the amount of playing time is that its inherently enjoyable nature makes it difficult to stop.
We also tested the alternative hypothesis that this relationship occurs because in flow, people lose track of time. Although flow is related to losing track of time, that does not mediate the relationship with playing time. Lastly, we demonstrated that despite losing more money and spending more time while gambling, those who experienced flow had more enjoyable experiences overall, creating a counterintuitive and potentially dangerous situation for gamblers. A secondary goal of this research was to explore ways in which to protect consumers from this paradox. We used warning messages and on-screen interruptions to potentially thwart flow. However, both tactics were ineffective. We discuss the implications for future research and practice. Article available online

Reference: Lavoie, R.V. & Main, K.J. (2019). When losing money and time feels good: The paradoxical role of flow in gambling. Journal of Gambling Issues, 41(April), 53–72. Retrieved from http://jgi.camh.net/index.php/jgi/article/view/4041/4382

Optimal public policy for government-operated gambling [open-access article].

Abstract: This paper presents a framework for formulating the optimal public policy for government-operated gambling. The goal of public policy with respect to government-operated gambling is typically stated as ‘‘harm minimization.’’ This claim masks the possible trade-off between an increase in social harm (H) and the government’s incremental net revenue (R) from increased gambling activity. Using a graphical approach, we depict first the feasible combinations of H and R, and then identify the combinations that could be classified as efficient, thereby allowing the minimum social harm for any given level of the government’s incremental net revenue from gambling. We indicate how the optimal combination of H and R could be identified and realized in both the short and long run. We then utilize the body of research on gambling and its effects to qualify what this trade-off operates in the real world. Article available online

Reference: Lipnowski, I., & McWhirter, A. (2018). Optimal public policy for government-operated gambling. Journal of Gambling Issues, 40(December). Retrieved from https://jgi.camh.net/index.php/jgi/article/view/4033/4367

Big five personality traits and alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, and gambling disorder comorbidity [subscription access article].

Abstract: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; 5th ed.) reassignment of gambling disorder as an addictive disorder alongside the substance-related addictive disorders encourages research into their shared etiologies. The aims of this study were to examine: (a) the associations of Big Five personality dimensions with alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, and gambling disorders, (b) the comorbidity between these disorders, (c) the extent to which common personality underpinnings explain comorbidity, (d) whether results differed for men and women, and (e) the magnitude of personality differences corresponding to the 4 disorders. Participants were 3,785 twins and siblings (1,365 men, 2,420 women; Mage = 32 years, range = 21–46 years) from the Australian Twin Registry who completed psychiatric interviews and Big Five personality inventories. The personality profile of high neuroticism, low agreeableness, and low conscientiousness was associated with all 4 addictive disorders. All but 1 of the pairwise associations between the disorders were significant. After accounting for Big Five traits, the associations were attenuated to varying degrees but remained significant. The results were generally similar for men and women. The results suggest that the Big Five traits of neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness are associated with the general propensity to develop an addictive disorder and may in part explain their co-occurrence; however, they may be more broadly associated with the propensity for any psychiatric disorder. The effect sizes of the personality associations suggest that the diagnosis of gambling disorder as operationalized by the DSM may be more severe than the other addictive disorders. Calibration of the diagnosis of gambling disorder to the other addictive disorders may be warranted. Article available from APA PsycNET $11.95

Reference: Dash, Genevieve F., Slutske, Wendy S., Martin, Nicholas G., Statham, Dixie J., Agrawal, Arpana, & Lynskey, Michael T. (2019). Big Five Personality Traits and Alcohol, Nicotine, Cannabis, and Gambling Disorder Comorbidity. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, (16 May).

Trajectories of social and economic outcomes and problem gambling risk in Australia [open-access government working paper].

Introduction: Researchers are increasingly recognising the importance of longitudinal data in providing valuable information on individuals to better understand gambling behaviour, trajectories, risks and consequences. However, relatively few longitudinal surveys have a significant focus on gambling.
This paper makes use of a longitudinal data source that has, for the first time, included questions on gambling behaviour in Australia: the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The HILDA survey included gambling questions for the first time in 2015 (wave 15). Although the HILDA survey currently provides data on gambling at a single point in time, there are data on the individuals back to 2001, in most cases. This paper uses selected social, economic and health variables, and analyses their trajectories over time across the gambling risk categories measured in 2015. The paper explores economic variables (household income, employment, qualifications, financial hardship, risk and stress) and selected social variables (life satisfaction, psychological distress, alcohol intake and smoking) from multiple HILDA waves.
The analysis clearly shows that problem gamblers experience significantly worse outcomes than those without gambling problems, and poor outcomes go back a number of years. In a number of cases, outcomes are becoming progressively poorer, which may suggest either increasingly risky gambling behaviour or the cumulative effects of a sustained period of problem gambling. Low- and moderate-risk gamblers have better economic, social and health outcomes than problem gamblers, but, in most cases, worse outcomes than those without gambling-related problems. Again, these differences go back a number of years. Exploring these particular variables in respect of problem gambling risk provides insights that may inform prevention and early intervention strategies to reduce gambling harm. Working paper available online

Reference: Fogarty, M., Taylor, M., & Gray, M. (2018). Trajectories of social and economic outcomes and problem gambling risk in Australia [CSRM Working Paper No. 9]. ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, ANU, Canberra. Retrieved from https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/154612

Evaluating changes in electronic gambling machine policy on user losses in an Australian jurisdiction [open-access article].

Background: Electronic gambling machines (EGMs) are in casinos and community venues (hotels and clubs) in all jurisdictions in Australia, except Western Australia (only in casino). EGMs have a range of features that can affect how people gamble, which can influence losses incurred by users. The Northern Territory Government recently changed two EGM policies – the introduction of note acceptors on EGMs in community venues, and an increase in the cap from 10 to 20 EGMs in hotels and 45 to 55 in clubs. This study evaluates two changes in EGM policy on user losses in community venues, and tracks changes in user losses per adult, EGM gambler, and EGM problem/moderate risk gambler between 2005 and 2015. Access online article

Reference: Stevens, M. & Livingstone, C. (2019). Evaluating changes in electronic gambling machine policy on user losses in an Australian jurisdiction. BMC Public Health, 19(517). Retrieved from https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-6814-1

Problem gambling and psychiatric comorbidity—risk and temporal sequencing among women and men: Results from the Swelogs Case–Control Study [open-access article].

Abstract: It is well known that many problem gamblers also suffer from other psychiatric conditions. However, knowledge regarding the temporal sequencing of the conditions is lacking, as well as insight in possible gender specific patterns. The aim of this study was to examine the risk for psychiatric comorbidity among problem gamblers compared to non-problem gamblers in the general Swedish population, as well as the age of onset and the temporal sequencing of problem gambling and the comorbid psychiatric conditions among lifetime problem gamblers. A case–control study nested in the Swelogs cohort was used. For both the female and the male problem gamblers, the risk for having had a lifetime psychiatric condition was double or more than double compared to the controls. Having experienced anxiety or depression before gambling onset, constituted a risk for developing problem gambling for the women but not for the men. Further, the female cases initiated gambling after their first period of anxiety, depression and problems with substances, and problem gambling was the last condition to evolve. Opposite this, the male cases initiated gambling before any condition evolved, and depression and suicidal events emerged after problem gambling onset. There were large differences in mean age of onset between the female cases and their controls, this was not the case for the males. Gender specific patterns in the association between problem gambling and psychiatric comorbidity, as well as in the development of problem gambling needs to be considered in treatment planning as well as by the industry in their advertising. Article available online

Reference: Sundqvist, K. & Rosendahl, I. (2019).Problem gambling and psychiatric comorbidity—risk and temporal sequencing among women and men: Results from the Swelogs Case–Control Study. Journal of Gambling Studies. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09851-2

A quantification of the net consumer-surplus from gambling participation [open-access article].

Aims. Gambling exposes people to risk for harm, but also has recreational benefits. The present study aimed to measure gambling harm and gambling benefits on similar scales using two novel methods adapted from the Burden of Disease approach (McCormack, Horne, & Sheather, 1988; Torrance, Thomas, & Sackett, 1972) to find whether gambling either adds or subtracts from quality of life.
Method. A Tasmanian population-representative survey of 5,000 adults (2534 female) from random digit dialling (RDD) of landline telephones in Tasmania (50%), as well as pre-screened Tasmanian RDD mobiles (17%) and listed mobile numbers (33%), measured gambling benefits and harms amongst gamblers (59.2%) and a non-exclusive set of people who were “affected” by someone else’s gambling (4.5%).
Results. The majority of gamblers indicated no change to their quality of life from gambling (82.5% or 72.6% based on Direct Elicitation (DE) or Time Trade Off (TTO) methods, respectively). Nevertheless, a weighted average of all the positive and negative influences on quality of life, inclusive of gamblers and affected others, revealed that the quality of life change from gambling is either a very modest +0.05% or a more concerning -1.9% per capita.
Conclusions. Gambling generates only small or negative net consumer surpluses for Tasmanians. Article available online

Reference: Rockloff, M.J., Browne, M., Russell, A.M.T., Merkouris, S.S., & Dowling, N.A. (2019). A quantification of the net consumer-surplus from gambling participation. Journal of Gambling Studies https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09845-0

Gambling among emerging adults: How gender and risk level influence associated problem behaviours [open-access article].

Abstract: This study investigates mental health and substance use problems associated with gambling among Canadian emerging adults (ages 18–20 years). Drawing on a cross-sectional wave of 624 (47.8% male) participants from the Manitoba Longitudinal Study of Young Adults, our findings suggest that among emerging adults, problem gambling should be understood as part of a wider syndrome. The profile of syndromic associations varies with both problem gambling risk level and gender. With respect to risk level, regression models indicate that, relative to no-risk gamblers, lower risk gamblers are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, whereas higher risk gamblers report greater symptoms of depression and anxiety. Males and females present different barriers to recovery: High-risk female gamblers are more likely to rely on escape-avoidance coping mechanisms, whereas their male counterparts tend to lack perceived social support. Given the centrality of these two variables and the lack of literature addressing how they interact, we conclude that further research is needed to understand how gender and gambling severity interact to simultaneously influence gambling-related behaviours among emerging adults. Access online article

Reference: Sanscartier, M.D., Shen, J., & Edgerton, J.D. (2019). Gambling among emerging adults: How gender and risk level influence associated problem behaviours. Journal of Gambling Issues, 41(April), 101-123. Retrieved from http://jgi.camh.net/index.php/jgi/article/view/4043

Exploration of social reinforcement for gambling in single case designs [open-access article]

[Introduction] Social reinforcement could be a variable that facilitates gambling behavior. Unfortunately, there are relatively few studies examining the impact that contingent social stimuli can have on betting behavior. Using simulated slot machine games and confederates, we investigated possible maintaining social contingencies for gambling with four recreational gamblers. Results indicated a small effect from a social positive reinforcement contingency for betting more credits than the previous trial. Four additional participants were recruited to replicate the effects of social positive reinforcement when structural aspects of the game were also changed, such as sound, win magnitude, and credit value. Lastly, one participant returned to the laboratory at a later time to examine the effects of different confederates providing social stimuli. This participant bet more in the presence of the confederate who had previously provided social positive reinforcement. Across the experiments, the social positive reinforcement contingency effect was replicated in five participants. Article available online

Reference: Costello, M.S., Sheibanee, B.D., Ricketts, A., Hirsh, J.L., & Deochand, N. (2019). Exploration of social reinforcement for gambling in single case designs. Analysis of Gambling Behavior, 12, 1-21. Retrieved from: https://repository.stcloudstate.edu/agb/vol12/iss1/1

Gambling in emerging adulthood: The role of adolescent depressive symptoms, antisocial behaviors, and alcohol use [subscription-access article]

Abstract: Emerging adults (ages 18–29) display higher prevalence of gambling participation and problem gambling as well as co-occurrence with other risk behaviors compared to other age groups. Consequences of these co-occurring conditions may lead to psychological symptoms, behavioral problems, and socioeconomic and medical costs. Depressive symptoms, antisocial behaviors, and alcohol use are known risk factors for gambling participation and problem gambling. However, scarce research has examined the co-occurrence of those adolescent risk factors and later gambling behaviors in emerging adulthood longitudinally. Using multiple waves of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) data, we examined the relationship between earlier depressive symptoms, antisocial behaviors, alcohol use, and gambling behaviors at wave III, and later gambling participation and problem gambling (wave IV) in emerging adults ages 18–29, using multinomial logistic regression. Our findings suggest that earlier antisocial behaviors and gambling behaviors increased later risk for gambling participation and problem gambling. Past-year alcohol use and heavy drinking were associated with the increased risk of gambling participation but not problem gambling. Earlier depressive symptoms decreased the risk of gambling participation later among those who endorsed antisocial behaviors. Emerging adulthood may be a critical developmental period in the development of comorbid conditions of gambling and other risk behaviors. The results contribute evidence supporting the importance of early prevention and intervention for the co-occurrence of gambling and other risk behaviors in emerging adulthood. Article details and access conditions

Reference: Jun, HJ., Sacco, P. & Cunningham-Williams, R.M. (2019). Gambling in emerging adulthood: The role of adolescent depressive symptoms, antisocial behaviors, and alcohol use. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-019-00087-0