The effects of alcohol expectancy and intake on slot machine gambling behavior (open access)

By Dominic Sagoe, Rune Aune Mentzoni, Tony Leino, Helge Molde, Sondre Haga, Mikjel Fredericson Gjernes, Daniel Hanss, and Ståle Pallesen.

Background and aims: Although alcohol intake and gambling often co-occur in related venues, there is conflicting evidence regarding the effects of alcohol expectancy and intake on gambling behavior. We therefore conducted an experimental investigation of the effects of alcohol expectancy and intake on slot machine gambling behavior.
Methods: Participants were 184 (females = 94) individuals [age range: 18–40 (mean = 21.9) years] randomized to four independent conditions differing in information/expectancy about beverage (told they received either alcohol or placebo) and beverage intake [actually ingesting low (target blood alcohol concentration [BAC] < 0.40 mg/L) vs. moderate (target BAC > 0.40 mg/L; ≈0.80 mg/L) amounts of alcohol]. All participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing demographic variables, subjective intoxication, alcohol effects (stimulant and sedative), and gambling factors (behavior and problems, evaluation, and beliefs). Participants also gambled on a simulated slot machine.
Results: A significant main effect of beverage intake on subjective intoxication and alcohol effects was detected as expected. No significant main or interaction effects were detected for number of gambling sessions, bet size and variation, remaining credits at termination, reaction time, and game evaluation.
Conclusion: Alcohol expectancy and intake do not affect gambling persistence, dissipation of funds, reaction time, or gambling enjoyment.


Prevention paradox logic and problem gambling: Does low-risk gambling impose a greater burden of harm than high-risk gambling? (Open access)

By Paul Delfabbro and Daniel King.

Background and aims: The aim of this paper is to examine the evidence and arguments in favor of prevention paradox (PP) logic in the context of problem gambling. Evidence from recent studies of gambling and the distribution of harm across lower and higher risk gamblers is reviewed to examine the contention that the absolute burden of harm is greater in low-risk (LR) gamblers than the problem gamblers.
Methods: The review examines a number of methodological and conceptual concerns about existing evidence in support of the PP.
Results: The principal problems identified include the misclassification of LR gamblers; the use of binary scoring method that understates the frequency of harms in high-risk populations; a tendency to confuse behavior and harm; and the use of potentially overly inclusive definitions of harm with low thresholds of severity.
Discussion and conclusions: This paper makes a number of recommendations for enhancement of this area of research, including the use of clear definitions of harm and LR behavior and a greater focus on harm with material impacts on people’s quality of life.

Post-traumatic stress symptoms in pathological gambling: Potential evidence of anti-reward processes (full text)

By Cheryl L. Green, Ramzi W. Nahhas, Arielle A. Scoglio, Igor Elman.

Background: Excessive gambling is considered to be a part of the addiction spectrum. Stress-like emotional states are a key feature both of pathological gambling (PG) and of substance addiction. In substance addiction, stress symptomatology has been attributed in part to “anti-reward” allostatic neuroadaptations, while a potential involvement of anti-reward processes in the course of PG has not yet been investigated. Methods: To that end, individuals with PG (n = 22) and mentally healthy subjects (n = 13) were assessed for trauma exposure and post-traumatic stress symptomatology (PTSS) using the Life Events Checklist and the Civilian Mississippi Scale, respectively. Results: In comparison with healthy subjects, individuals with PG had significantly greater PTSS scores including greater physiological arousal sub-scores. The number of traumatic events and their recency were not significantly different between the groups. In the PG group, greater gambling severity was associated with more PTSS, but neither with traumatic events exposure nor with their recency. Conclusions: Our data replicate prior reports on the role of traumatic stress in the course of PG and extend those findings by suggesting that the link may be derived from the anti-reward-type neuroadaptation rather than from the traumatic stress exposure per se.

Proactive coping and gambling disorder among young men (full text)

Sleczka, P., Braun, B., Grüne, B., Bühringer, G., & Kraus, L.

Objectives: Male sex, young age, and frequent gambling are considered as risk factors for gambling disorder (GD) and stress might be one of the triggers of gambling behavior among problem gamblers. Conversely, well-developed coping with stress might counteract gambling problems. The Proactive Coping Theory provides a promising approach for the further development of preventive and treatment measures. The objective of the study was to investigate different facets of proactive coping (PC) in young male gamblers.

Methods: Young men from Bavaria were recruited via the Munich citizens’ registry (n=2,588) and Facebook invitations (n=105). In total, 173 out of 398 individuals were positively screened for frequent gambling and/or signs of related problems and completed the baseline questionnaire of the Munich Leisure-time Study. Factors investigated include gambling problems, PC, impulsiveness, social support, and psychological distress.

Results: Gambling problems were associated with lower levels of preventive coping as well as of adaptive reaction delay. The associations were also significant when controlled for impulsiveness and general psychological distress. Preventive coping moderated the association between social support and gambling problems.

Discussion and conclusions: Young men with gambling problems less frequently prevent the occurrence of stressors and more often react hasty when these occur. While the investigated group reported good social support, this factor was negatively associated with GD only among individuals with good preventive coping. Preventive coping poses a useful construct for selective prevention and treatment as it can be modified in professional interventions.

Sleczka, P., Braun, B., Grüne, B., Bühringer, G., & Kraus, L. (2016). Proactive coping and gambling disorder among young men. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 1–10.

Problem gambling worldwide: An update and systematic review of empirical research (2000–2015) (Full text)

Filipa Calado and Mark D. Griffiths

Background and aims: Problem gambling has been identified as an emergent public health issue, and there is a need to identify gambling trends and to regularly update worldwide gambling prevalence rates. This paper aims to review recent research on adult gambling and problem gambling (since 2000) and then, in the context of a growing liberalization of the gambling market in the European Union, intends to provide a more detailed analysis of adult gambling behavior across European countries.

Methods: A systematic literature search was carried out using academic databases, Internet, and governmental websites.

Results: Following this search and utilizing exclusion criteria, 69 studies on adult gambling prevalence were identified. These studies demonstrated that there are wide variations in past-year problem gambling rates across different countries in the world (0.12–5.8%) and in Europe (0.12–3.4%). However, it is difficult to directly compare studies due to different methodological procedures, instruments, cut-offs, and time frames. Despite the variability among instruments, some consistent results with regard to demographics were found.

Discussion and conclusion: The findings highlight the need for continuous monitoring of problem gambling prevalence rates in order to examine the influence of cultural context on gambling patterns, assess the effectiveness of policies on gambling-related harms, and establish priorities for future research.

The cost of virtual wins: An examination of gambling-related risks in youth who spend money on social casino games (full text)

Methods An online survey was administered to 555 adolescents, including 130 SCG players (78 non-paying and 52 paying users).

Unpacking the public stigma of problem gambling: The process of stigma creation and predictors of social distancing

Hing, N., Russell, A. M. T., & Gainsbury, S. M.

Background and aims
Public stigma diminishes the health of stigmatized populations, so it is critical to understand how and why stigma occurs to inform stigma reduction measures. This study aimed to examine stigmatizing attitudes held toward people experiencing problem gambling, to examine whether specific elements co-occur to create this public stigma, and to model explanatory variables of this public stigma.

An online panel of adults from Victoria, Australia (N = 2,000) was surveyed. Measures were based on a vignette for problem gambling and included demographics, gambling behavior, perceived dimensions of problem gambling, stereotyping, social distancing, emotional reactions, and perceived devaluation and discrimination. A hierarchical linear regression was conducted.

People with gambling problems attracted substantial negative stereotypes, social distancing, emotional reactions, and status loss/discrimination. These elements were associated with desired social distance, as was perceived that problem gambling is caused by bad character, and is perilous, non-recoverable, and disruptive. Level of contact with problem gambling, gambling involvement, and some demographic variables was significantly associated with social distance, but they explained little additional variance.

Discussion and conclusions
This study contributes to the understanding of how and why people experiencing gambling problems are stigmatized. Results suggest the need to increase public contact with such people, avoid perpetuation of stereotypes in media and public health communications, and reduce devaluing and discriminating attitudes and behaviors.

Hing, N., Russell, A. M. T., & Gainsbury, S. M. (2016). Unpacking the public stigma of problem gambling: The process of stigma creation and predictors of social distancing. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 1–9.