The revolving door between government and the alcohol, food and gambling industries in Australia [open-access article]

Key points

  • More than one-third of people registered on the Australian Government Register of Lobbyists have previously been government representatives
  • The political ‘revolving door’ between government and the alcohol, food and gambling industries potentially undermines good public health policy by creating an imbalance between the influence of industry and that of public health advocacy
  • Mechanisms for ensuring healthy and transparent governance need to be established, potentially including revisions to Ministerial codes and public servant conditions, and a Federal anticorruption body
    Link to the article

Citation: Robertson NM, Sacks G, Miller PG. (2019). The revolving door between government and the alcohol, food and gambling industries in Australia. Public Health Research and Practice, 29(3):e2931921.  https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp2931921

The effects of a mandatory play break on subsequent gambling among Norwegian video lottery terminal players [open-access article]

Background and aims: Responsible gambling (RG) tools and initiatives have been introduced by social RG operators as a means to help prevent problem gambling. One such initiative is the use of mandatory play breaks (i.e., forced session terminations). Recommendations by RG experts for gambling operators to implement mandatory play breaks appear to be intuitively sensible but are not evidence-based.

Methods: The present authors were given access by the Norwegian gambling operator Norsk Tipping to data from 7,190 video lottery terminal (VLT) players who gambled between January and March 2018. This generated 218,523 playing sessions for further analysis. Once a gambling session reaches a 1-hr play duration, a forced session termination of 90 s comes into effect. This study evaluated the effect of mandatory play breaks on subsequent gambling.

Results: Compared to similar sessions identified using a matched-pairs design, results demonstrated that there was no significant effect of the forced termination regarding the amount of money staked in the subsequent gambling session or on the time duration of the subsequent gambling session.

Conclusions: Although expenditure was higher in the subsequent 24 hr for terminated sessions, this is likely due to higher intensity gamblers being more likely to trigger mandatory breaks. Implications of these findings are discussed.
Link to the article

Citation: Auer, M., Hopfgartner, N. & Griffiths, M.D. (2019). The effects of a mandatory play break on subsequent gambling among Norwegian video lottery terminal players. Journal of Behavioral Addictions 8(3), 522–529. DOI: 10.1556/2006.8.2019.51

Experiences of responsible gambling tools among non-problem gamblers: A survey of active customers of an online gambling platform [open-access article]

Abstract
Introduction: Responsible gambling (RG) tools, aiming at helping gamblers to avoid gambling-related harms, are common in online gambling platforms. Gambling industry, policy makers, and researchers have warned that RG tools can potentially disturb recreational gamblers, channeling them to less protective operators. No evidence exists to support these concerns, and they can hinder the development of effective RG tools. The current study aimed to investigate the recreational gamblers’ experiences of RG tools.

Methods: A total of 10,200 active customers of an online gambling service were invited to complete an online survey and rate their overall reactions, attitudes, disturbance and irritation towards RG tools, as well as their inclination to abandon a gambling service due to overexposure to RG tools. N = 1223 surveys were completed

Results: Non-problem gamblers had positive experiences of RG tools. Moderate-risk gamblers had more positive overall reaction and less irritation to previous experiences of RG tools compared to non-problem gamblers. Problem gamblers had least positive attitudes, most disturbance and most irritation towards RG pictures. Non-problem gamblers had lowest rates of having abandoned a service because of perceived overexposure to RG tools (5.2% compared to 25.9% of problem gamblers), with a significant between-group difference (OR [95% CI] = 7.17 [3.61–14.23], p < .001).

Conclusions: Non-problem gamblers were not particularly disturbed by RG tools and were not at risk of abandoning online gambling services because of overexposure to RG tools. The study found no grounds for limiting the design and implementation of RG tools due to fears of disturbing recreational gamblers.
Link to the article via ScienceDirect

Citation: Ivanova, E., Rafi, J., Lindner, P. & Carlbring, P. (2019). Experiences of responsible gambling tools among non-problem gamblers: A survey of active customers of an online gambling platform. Addictive Behaviors Reports, 9(100161). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abrep.2019.100161

The joint role of impulsivity and distorted cognitions in recreational and problem gambling: A cluster analytic approach [open-access article]

Abstract
Background and aims: The Pathways Model (Blaszczynski & Nower, 2002) posits that problem gambling is a heterogeneous disorder with distinct subgroups (behaviorally conditioned gamblers, emotionally vulnerable gamblers, and antisocial-impulsivist gamblers). Impulsivity traits and gambling-related cognitions are re-cognized as two key psychological factors in the onset and maintenance of problem gambling. To date, these constructs have been explored separately, and their joint role in determining problem gambling subtypes has received little attention. The goal of our study was to identify subgroups of gamblers based on impulsivity traits and gambling-related cognitions, and to determine whether this approach is consistent with the Pathways model.

Methods: Gamblers from the community (N= 709) and treatment-seeking pathological gamblers (N= 122)completed questionnaires measuring gambling habits, disordered gambling symptoms, gambling-related cog-nitions, and impulsivity traits.

Results: Cluster analyses revealed that three clusters globally aligned with the pathways proposed by Blaszczynski & Nower (2002). Two other clusters emerged: (1) impulsive gamblers without cognitive-related cognitions; and (2) gamblers without impulsivity or gambling-related cognitions. Gamblers with both heightened impulsive traits and gambling-related cognitions had more severe problem gambling symptoms.

Conclusion: We successfully identified, based on ana prioritheoretical framework, different subtypes of gamblersthat varied in terms of problem gambling symptoms and clinical status. The diversity of the cluster profilessupports the development of personalized prevention strategies and psychological interventions.
Link to the article

Citation: Gaëtan Devos, Luke Clark, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Marie Grall-Bronnec, Gaëlle Challet-Bouju, Yasser Khazaal, Pierre Maurage, Joël Billieux. (2020). The joint role of impulsivity and distorted cognitions in recreational and problem gambling: A cluster analytic approach. Journal of Affective Disorders, 260, 473-482. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2019.08.096.

Gambling-like video game practices: Links with problem gambling and disordered gaming in a nationally representative sample [open-access preprint]

Abstract: A variety of practices have recently emerged which are related to both video games and gambling. Most prominent of these are loot boxes. However, a broad range of other activities have recently emerged which are also related to both gambling and video games: esports betting, real-money video gaming, token wagering, social casino play, and watching videos of both loot box opening and gambling on game streaming services like Twitch.

Whilst a nascent body of research has established the robust existence of a relationship between loot box spending and both problem gambling and disordered gaming, little research exists which examines whether similar links may exist for the diverse practices outlined above. Furthermore, no research has thus far attempted to estimate the prevalence of these activities.

A large-scale survey of a representative sample of UK adults (n=1081) was therefore conducted in order to investigate these issues. Engagement in all measured forms of gambling-like video game practices were significantly associated with both problem gambling and disordered gaming. An aggregate measure of engagement was associated with both these outcomes to a clinically significant degree (rho=0.23 and rho=0.43).

Engagement in gambling-like video game practices appeared widespread, with a 95% confidence interval estimating that 16.3% – 20.9% of the population engaged in these activities at least once in the last year. Engagement in these practices was highly inter-correlated: Individuals who engaged in one practice were likely to engage in several more.

Overall, these results suggest that the potential effects of the blurring of lines between video games and gambling should not primarily be understood through the lens of loot boxes. They instead suggest the existence of a convergent ecosystem of gambling-like video game practices, whose causal relationships with problem gambling and disordered gaming are currently unclear but must urgently be investigated.
Link to the paper via PsyArXiv Preprints

Citation: Zendle, D. (2019, September 4). Gambling-like video game practices: Links with problem gambling and disordered gaming in a nationally representative sample. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/fh3vx

Online gambling in New Zealand: Results from the 2018 Health and Lifestyles Survey

[Introduction]: With the advance of mobile and digital technology, we can gamble almost anywhere. The percentage of New Zealanders gambling online is increasing. This report presents results from the 2018 Health and Lifestyles Survey (HLS). It focuses on the profile of online gamblers and the types of online gambling in which they participated.

We compared findings against the previous surveys’ findings where possible. Online gamblers are those who gambled over the internet on New Zealand hosted websites and apps (domestic), or on overseas hosted websites, in the last 12 months.
Link to the report online

Citation: Rendall, S., Thimasarn-Anwar, T., Martin, G. (2019). Online gambling in New Zealand: Results from the 2018 Health and Lifestyles Survey. Wellington: Health Promotion Agency/Te Hiringa Hauora (HPA).

Heterogeneity in disordered gambling: Decision-making and impulsivity in gamblers grouped by preferred form [open-access article].

Background: Previous research has indicated that disordered gamblers display deficits in impulsivity and risky decision-making, compared to healthy control groups. However, disordered gamblers are not a homogenous group, and differences in performance on neurocognitive tasks may be related to the form of gambling in which an individual chooses to engage. The present study used neurocognitive tasks and questionnaire measures to ascertain group differences in gamblers grouped by preferred form of gambling.

Method: Treatment-seeking pathological gamblers from the National Problem Gambling Clinic, London (n = 101), completed a neurocognitive assessment comprising the Cambridge gamble task (CGT), the stop-signal task (SST), a probabilistic reversal learning task (PRL), and the Kirby Monetary Choice Questionnaire, as well as questionnaire measures of gambling severity, impulsivity, depression, and anxiety. Analyses compared gamblers who favored fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) (the modal form) to gamblers who preferred other forms of gambling (non-FOBT).

Results: The FOBT group showed impaired decision-making under risk on the CGT compared to the non-FOBT group, choosing the likely option less on more uncertain decisions. The FOBT group made fewer perseverative errors on the PRL task, had lower depression and anxiety scores, and were less likely to have a family history of problem gambling than the non-FOBT group.

Discussion: Decision-making and cognitive flexibility differences between gamblers grouped by gambling type supports preferred form as an important source of heterogeneity in gambling disorder. Decision-making strategies and risk attitudes should be considered when approaching cognition-focused treatment strategies, allowing interventions to be targeted at specific cognitive deficits. Link to the article

Citation: Sharman, S., Clark, L., Roberts, A., Michalczuk, R., Cocks, R., & Bowden-Jones, H. (2019). Heterogeneity in disordered gambling: Decision-making and impulsivity in gamblers grouped by preferred form. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10(588). DOI: doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00588

Associations between problematic gambling, gaming, and internet use: A cross-sectional population survey [open-access article].

Background. While pathological gambling, or gambling disorder, is an established diagnosis, a link to other potential behavioural addictions has been suggested. The present study aimed to investigate whether signs of problem gaming and problematic internet use are related to problem gambling in the general population, while including other potential risk factors.
Methods. A crosssectional study design, using an electronical questionnaire, administered through a marketing survey company for relative representativeness with respect to age and gender. Potential correlates of problem gambling were measured in binary analyses, and significant associations were entered in a logistic regression analysis controlling them for one another. Problem gambling, gaming, and internet use were measured through established screening instruments (the CLiP, the GAS, and the PRIUSS).
Results. Statistically significant associations were found between problem gambling and both problem gaming and problematic internet use, as well as with male gender. In logistic regression, problem gaming, problematic internet use, and male gender remained associated with problem gambling.
Conclusion. After controlling for potential demographic risk factors, problem gaming and problematic internet use may be related to problem gambling, suggesting that these constructs may interact or may share similar risk factors. More research is needed to clarify factors mediating the links between these conditions. Article available online

Citation: Karlsson, J., Broman, N., & Håkansson, A. (2019). Associations between problematic gambling, gaming, and internet use: A cross-sectional population survey. Hindawi Journal of Addiction, 1464858, 8 pages. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/1464858

How learning misconceptions can improve outcomes and youth engagement with gambling education programs [open-access article].

Background and aims: Gambling education programs typically focus on promoting gambling as a high-risk activity with harmful effects; however, these programs demonstrate limited effects on the prevention of gambling problems. This paper proposes a clear theoretical framework to inform the content and delivery of gambling education initiatives and draws on psychological and pedagogical research to address some of the practical issues associated with its implementation.
Methods: Literature was reviewed across fields of psychology, public health, and pedagogy to provide key recommendations to improve the outcomes of gambling education.
Results: Four key recommendations were made for the development of future gambling education programs centering on theoretical approach, specialized content, and delivery.
Discussion and conclusions: Recommended advancements are as follows: (a) evidence suggests shifting away from messages about gambling harms and instead applying a cognitive-developmental framework of problem gambling that may improve youth engagement by increasing personal relevance. (b) The cognitive model of problem gambling suggests that misconceptions about the profitability of gambling games (e.g., the gambler’s fallacy) play an important role in the development of problems and should be a key target for education. However, exposing such misconceptions requires the challenge of teaching the mathematical principles that underpin them. (c) The pedagogical field provides valuable insights into teaching complex concepts. Research that applies the conceptual change model to science education suggests misconceptions also facilitate learning new complex information, such as gambling-related mathematical concepts (i.e., randomness and statistics). (d) In addition, improvements in computer-assisted teaching methods provide opportunities to use simulations and visualizations to help teach abstract concepts and correct such misconceptions. Article available online

Citation: Brittany Keen, Fadi Anjoul & Alex Dblaszczynski. (2019). How learning misconceptions can improve outcomes and youth engagement with gambling education programs. Journal of Behavioral Addictions 8(3), 372–383. DOI: 10.1556/2006.8.2019.56