‘I’ll just pay the rent next month’: an exploratory study examining facilitatory cognitions among EGM problem gamblers (subscription access article)

Jane Oakes, Rene Pols, Sharon Lawn, Malcolm Battersby, Dan Lubman. (2018) International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. doi: 10.1007/s11469-018-9948-y

Clinical studies of problem gamblers (PGs) highlight the role of erroneous cognitions during problematic gambling, yet little is known about the role of cognitions in the maintenance of gambling problems. Twenty-nine electronic gaming machine (EGM) PGs engaged in focus groups and in-depth interviews, with a focus on understanding the relapse process in EGM gambling. Three themes and nine subthemes related to facilitatory cognitions were described; (i) creating available money (paying only essential bills, pokies money is not real money), (ii) minimising gambling as a problem (pseudo-control, ignoring harms), and (iii) struggling with overwhelming emotions. This paper expands our understanding of gambling cognitions and argues cognitions activated during problem gambling are more complicated than considered to date. These findings inform current cognitive therapy approaches by identifying a more comprehensive suite of erroneous cognitions. Addressing these cognitions may assist gamblers to maintain critical thinking about their decision to gamble, thus reducing their risk of relapse. Article details and references


Impulsivity and problem gambling: can the anticipated emotional rewards explain the relationship? (subscription access article)

Flack, M. & Buckby, B. (2018). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-018-9950-4

Gambling behaviors tend to increase in prevalence from late adolescence to young adulthood, and the underlying genetic and environmental influences during this period remain largely understudied. We examined the genetic and environmental influences on gambling behaviors contributing to stability and change from ages 18 to 25 in a longitudinal, behavioral genetic mixed-sex twin study design. Participants were enrolled in the Minnesota Twin Family Study. A range of gambling behaviors (maximum frequency, average frequency, money lost, and gambling problems) were assessed at ages 18 and 25. The results of our study support the following conclusions: (a) the genetic and environmental factors impacting a range of gambling behaviors are largely similar in men and women, (b) genetic factors increase in influence from 18 to 25 (21% at age 18 to 57% at age 25), (c) shared environmental factors are influential at age 18, but tend to decrease from ages 18 to 25 (55% at age 18 to 10% at age 25), and (d) nonshared environmental influences are similarly significant and are small to moderate in magnitude at both ages. The findings add to a small yet important research area regarding determinants of youth gambling behaviors and have the potential to inform prevention and intervention efforts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved). Article details and references

Design and Methods of the New Zealand National Gambling Study, a Prospective Cohort Study of Gambling and Health: 2012–2019

By Abbott, M., Bellringer, M., Garrett, N., & Kolandai-Matchett, K.

Abstract: This paper describes the design, sampling, recruitment, and data analysis of the prospective, nationally representative New Zealand National Gambling Study. Particular aspects of the study were critical for its success as a longitudinal epidemiologic study, making its methodology beneficial for replication in other jurisdictions. At baseline (2012), 6251 adults were interviewed and followed-up in 2013, 2014, and 2015. An additional cohort of 106 moderate-risk/problem gamblers interviewed at baseline (2014–2015) and follow-up (2015–2016) increased the number of these groups in the study. Measures included gambling commencement, gambling frequency, gambling risk levels, at-risk and problem gambling development (incidence), comorbidity, problem gambling cessation, and relapse. Future stages include a follow-up assessment in 2019 and a qualitative study. The study design enables assessment of population and individual level changes and transitions over time, identification of risk and protective factors, and comparisons with previous similarly designed prospective studies. Methods for enhancing response rates and retention are discussed.

Abbott, M., Bellringer, M., Garrett, N., & Kolandai-Matchett, K. (2017). Design and Methods of the New Zealand National Gambling Study, a Prospective Cohort Study of Gambling and Health: 2012–2019. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 15(6), 1242–1269. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-017-9843-y


A Comparison of Online Versus Offline Gambling Harm in Portuguese Pathological Gamblers: An Empirical Study

By Hubert, P., & Griffiths, M. D.

Abstract: Over the past decade, gambling has become a very popular activity across Europe including the growth of Internet gambling. Portugal is one of the few European countries where little research has been carried out. Given the lack of studies, a Portuguese sample (N = 1,599) was surveyed concerning their online and offline gambling habits. More specifically, the aim of this study was to identify and compare from the total sample, online pathological gamblers (PGON) (n = 171) and offline pathological gamblers’ (PGOF) (n = 171) characteristics, and eventual risk factors for the development of problem gambling. Results demonstrated that PGON had different profiles compared to PGOF, although there were also similarities. Situational characteristics were much more significant for PGON than PGOF (e.g., availability, accessibility, affordability), but PGOF had higher scores than PGON on factors concerning individual characteristics (e.g., intensity of feelings while gambling, depression, suicidal ideation, etc.). Findings also showed differences concerning attitudes toward responsible gambling measures. The fact that situational characteristics are more attractive to online gamblers confirms differences between PGON and PGOF and suggests that this preferred attractiveness may enhance problem gambling potential. Further research is needed to better understand the interaction between Internet situational characteristics and the individual characteristics of gamblers, as well as the profile of the growing population of gamblers that uses both online and offline modes to gamble.

Hubert, P., & Griffiths, M. D. (2017). A Comparison of Online Versus Offline Gambling Harm in Portuguese Pathological Gamblers: An Empirical Study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-017-9846-8Hubert, P., & Griffiths, M. D. (2017). A Comparison of Online Versus Offline Gambling Harm in Portuguese Pathological Gamblers: An Empirical Study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-017-9846-8


A Pilot Evaluation of a Tutorial to Teach Clients and Clinicians About Gambling Game Design

By Turner, N. E., Robinson, J., Harrigan, K., Ferentzy, P., & Jindani, F.

Abstract: This paper describes the pilot evaluation of an Internet-based intervention, designed to teach counselors and problem gamblers about how electronic gambling machines (EGMs) work. This study evaluated the tutorial using assessment tools, such as rating scales and test of knowledge about EGMs and random chance. The study results are based on a number of samples, including problem gambling counselors (n = 25) and problem gamblers (n = 26). The interactive tutorial was positively rated by both clients and counselors. In addition, we found a significant improvement in scores on a content test about EGM games for both clients and counselors. An analysis of the specific items suggests that the effects of the tutorial were mainly on those items that were most directly related to the content of the tutorial and did not always generalize to other items. This tutorial is available for use with clients and for education counselors. The data also suggest that the tutorial is equally effective in group settings and in individual settings. These results are promising and illustrate that the tool can be used to teach counselors and clients about game design. Furthermore, research is needed to evaluate its impact on gambling behavior.

Turner, N. E., Robinson, J., Harrigan, K., Ferentzy, P., & Jindani, F. (2017). A Pilot Evaluation of a Tutorial to Teach Clients and Clinicians About Gambling Game Design. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-017-9816-1


An Exploratory Study of the Impacts of Gambling on Affected Others Accessing a Social Service

Jason Landon, Elizabeth Grayson, Amanda Roberts

Problem gambling affects many people beyond the problem gambler themselves. Help-seeking is relatively rare among affected others, especially those in lower socio-economic communities. However, these affected others are sometimes in contact with other support agencies. The present research interviewed 10 people seeking support through a social agency who reported being affected by someone else’s gambling. Data from semi-structured interviews were analysed using an inductive descriptive approach to identify three themes: (1) This is ugly, (2) It affects everything and (3) I just do it by myself. The results highlight the normality of harmful gambling across generations, the lack of any positive aspects to gambling for affected others and the impacts on families and children. Specific gambling-related help-seeking remains rare; however, the opportunity to provide support, information and advice on approaches to coping to affected others as they contact social services is highlighted.

The “Walk of Shame”: a Qualitative Study of the Influences of Negative Stereotyping of Problem Gambling on Gambling Attitudes and Behaviours

By Helen E. Miller, Samantha Thomas.

Problem gambling is known to be associated with significant stigma, but there is limited research on the negative stereotypes that underpin this judgement. Understanding the stereotypes that contribute to the stigmatisation of problem gambling may help to identify new approaches to reducing gambling stigma. Using data collected during 100 in-depth qualitative interviews with gamblers in Victoria, Australia, we explored factors which underpin negative stereotypes about people with gambling problems, the influence of negative stereotypes on behaviours and attitudes and differences in attitudes to different gambling products. Participants perceived that people with gambling problems were lacked responsibility and control, as were “lazy”, “stupid” and “greedy.” Electronic gambling machine (EGM) gamblers were particularly stigmatised. Negative stereotypes focusing on personal responsibility led to feelings of guilt and shame in people with gambling problems, as well as increased social isolation, and also impacted on moderate-risk gamblers, who contrasted their own behaviour with a stereotyped idea of a person with a gambling problem. Participants linked stereotyped portrayals of problem gambling to discussions of the gambling industry, which they perceived focused on control and responsibility, and the media, which they perceived emphasised extreme negative consequences from gambling. This study suggests that negative stereotypes focusing on personal responsibility for gambling problems are a factor leading to the stigmatisation of people with gambling problems.