Gambling in prisons – A nationwide Polish study of sentenced men [open access article]

Despite the abandonment of the criterion of committing illegal acts in the diagnosis of pathological gambling in fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), research confirms the significant link between crime, gambling, and gambling addiction.

In Poland, this connection is observed by psychologists working in the prison service, who simultaneously report the need for more structured interactions that would solve gambling problems among prisoners. The lack of any data on the involvement of persons committing crimes in gambling in Poland formed the basis for the implementation of a survey of gambling behaviour and gambling problems among male offenders in Polish correctional institutions.

A total of 1,219 sentenced men took part in the study. The research tool included 75 questions, including queries from the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS). Based on SOGS, the prevalence rate of severe problem gambling was 29.4% over the lifetimes of the prisoners. As many as 13.1% of respondents admitted to having gambled in prison. This activity usually involved cards, bets or dice. More than 74% of incarcerated men who gambled in prison met the criteria for pathological gambling. Prisoners who gambled more in prison than at liberty made up 27.7%.

As many as 69.3% of respondents declared that while in prison, they had met fellow convicts experiencing problems because of gambling. The study shows that criminals continue gambling after detention, especially those who are problem gamblers, an overall finding which implies the need to implement preventive and therapeutic interventions in correctional institutions. Link to the article

Citation: Lelonek-Kuleta, B. (2020). Gambling in prisons – A nationwide Polish study of sentenced men. Journal of Gambling Issues, 44. Retrieved from Google Scholar.

Gamtest: Psychometric evaluation in a low-gambling general population [open access article]

Instruments that investigate different aspects of gambling activities are needed to distinguish negative consequences. Because gambling is a complex activity that occurs both offline and online, different questionnaires are necessary for screening
and risk classification. GamTest, an instrument used by several gambling companies, was designed to cover different aspects of gambling: money and time spent, as well as social, financial, and emotional consequences.

This study explores GamTest’s psychometric properties in a general population. A total of 2,234 Swedish respondents completed an online survey containing demographic questions, the questionnaire (GamTest), and the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). A confirmatory factor analysis was performed and GamTest’s reliability and validity tested. The confirmatory factor analysis yielded an inclusive fit. The internal consistency (omega) for the five factors was high (.79–.91), indicating good reliability, and a high positive correlation with the PGSI supported the validity of the GamTest.

The inclusive fit of the confirmatory factor analysis can be explained by the low endorsement of negative consequences of gambling in the sample. However, GamTest seems to have good reliability and validity. The utility of GamTest is discussed in relation to its psychometric properties and its use in the responsible gambling tool Playscan. Link to the article

Citation: Forsström, D., Philip Lindner, P., Jansson-Fröjmark, M., Hesser, H., & Carlbring, P. (2020). Gamtest: Psychometric evaluation in a low-gambling general population. Journal of Gambling Issues. Retrieved from

Does gambling harm or benefit other industries? A systematic review [open access article]

The economic benefits of gambling may be offset by economic harm to other industries. This economic phenomenon, also known as substitution or cannibalization, refers to a new product that diverts consumption and profits from other products or industries. Gambling may displace revenue from other businesses, but economic impact studies on gambling do not consider such shifts between expenditures.
This paper presents a systematic review of the available evidence (N = 118) on whether the introduction or expansion of gambling harms or benefits other business activity. Although the issue has been considered in previous review studies, no industry-level analysis is currently available.
The results show that such an approach is necessary, as the impacts of gambling on other industries appear to depend strongly on the type of industry, as well as on the location and type of gambling. Industries that are negatively affected by gambling include other recreation, retail and merchandise, manufacturing, and agriculture and mining. Alcohol consumption, construction, and the finance, insurance, and real estate industries, as well as other services, appear to be positively affected by the presence of gambling. In other cases, the evidence is either mixed or inconclusive.
These results nevertheless depend strongly on the type of gambling. Destination gambling appears to be more beneficial to other industries than recreational gambling. Overall, the results show that even in cases when gambling does substitute for other industries, the displacement is not complete. The reasons for this and the gaps in the existing evidence and literature are discussed. Link to the article

Citation: Marionneau, V., & Nikkinen, J. (2020). Does gambling harm or benefit other industries? A systematic review. Journal of Gambling Issues. Retrieved from:

A review of sports wagering: Prevalence, characteristics of sports bettors, and association with problem gambling

Given significant technological advances, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2018 permitting U.S. states to offer and regulate sports wagering, and multiple international governments already regulating and licensing sports wagering operators, sports wagering will likely continue to grow exponentially. This expanding landscape of sports wagering may pose public health problems. This literature review provides a description of our current knowledge of sports gambling behaviour among adults, adolescents, and athletes, including prevalence rates and factors associated with problem gambling sports bettors. We highlight new issues that are surfacing, particularly the interaction between online betting, sports viewing, live betting, mobile technology, and sports fantasy gambling. We also address future research directions, including the need for longitudinal studies to clarify factors that contribute to the onset and maintenance of sports-related problem gambling, to examine the impact of major league sports leagues and professional teams that partner with gambling operators and casinos on gambling behaviour, and the need to assess public policy and treatment approaches. Link to the article

Citation: Winters, K.C. & Derevensky, J.L. (2019). A review of sports wagering: Prevalence, characteristics of sports bettors, and association with problem gambling. Journal of Gambling Issues, 43.

A behaviour sequence analysis of young people and gambling-related harm [article]

Gambling is a worldwide issue that requires continued, extensive investigation. Most people have gambled at some point in their lives, and many do so without incurring problems. However, a number of individuals do experience gambling-related harm, and understanding the pathways or life histories these individuals have experienced may elucidate how and why their gambling became harmful.

The current research uses a novel method, Behaviour Sequence Analysis, to understand the temporal pathways that young people experience when first gambling. Behaviour Sequence Analysis takes multiple qualitative accounts, first-person interviews in the current study, and collates the data into statistical pathway models that show the chains between behaviours and events. A sample of 66 participants provided details of their life experiences regarding what led them to first gamble.

Results indicated that parents and peers had a large influence and were facilitators in the first-time gambling episode, which was expected. However, the results also showed that many participants suggested that receiving scratch cards in their birthday cards was their first experience of gambling, and this seemingly innocuous act was the first step towards a pathway into gambling related harm.

The findings, therefore, support previous literature, while highlighting a novel method for future research, and various key intervention points for which strategies could be developed to reduce the potential for developing gambling-related harm behaviours.
Link to the article

Citation: Keatley, D., Parke, A., Townsend, E., Markham, C., & Clarke, D. (2019). A behaviour sequence analysis of young people and gambling-related harm. Journal of Gambling Issues, 43. DOI:

The near-miss effect in slot machines: A review and experimental analysis over half a century later [open-access article].

Abstract: In games of chance, a near miss is said to occur when feedback for a loss approximates a win. For instance, obtaining “cherry–cherry–lemon” on a slot machine could be considered a near miss. Sixty-six years ago, B.F. Skinner first proposed the idea that near-miss events might reinforce continued play in slot machines, and despite some inconsistencies in the experimental literature, belief in this “near-miss effect” has remained strong. In the present manuscript, we will review this literature and present experimental assessments of the near-miss effect on the frequency of the gambling response. Experiment 1 used a tightly controlled resistance-to-extinction procedure in pigeons to evaluate the putative reinforcing effect of near misses relative to a control “far-miss” reel pattern. Experiment 2 extended Experiment 1’s procedure to human participants. The results of both experiments failed to support the near-miss effect hypothesis. Experiment 3 used a further simplified procedure to assess the validity of the resistance-to-extinction paradigm when a probable conditional reinforcer was present on the reel stimuli. Although a clear conditional response was obtained from the reel, subsequent testing in extinction revealed no conditionally reinforcing function of this stimulus on operant response frequencyArticle available online

Citation: Pisklak, J.M., Yong, J.J.H. & Spetch, M.L. (2019). The near-miss effect in slot machines: A review and experimental analysis over half a century later. Journal of Gambling Studies. doi:

Promoting cross-sector collaboration and input into care planning via an integrated problem gambling and mental health service [open-access article].

Abstract: Although problem gambling and mental illnesses are highly comorbid, there are few examples of integrated problem gambling and mental illness services. This has meant that it is unclear whether such services are needed, why they may be used, and how they operate to support clients who are affected by the comorbidity and the clinicians who are providing care. This study reports on data collected via telephone questionnaire-assisted interviews of 20 clients and 19 referrers who had accessed one such Australian integrated problem gambling and mental illness program between July 2014 and June 2016.
Data revealed that clients were often referred in the context of psychiatric or psychosocial crisis, or when clinicians encountered clients who were not making progress and wanted a second opinion about diagnosis and treatment. Improved management of illness symptoms or gambling behaviour was a commonly reported benefit, and a number of clients reported gaining a feeling of reassurance and hope following assessment as a result of a deeper understanding of their issues and available treatment options. Access to dual-specialist expertise on problem gambling and mental illness may therefore enhance treatment planning, management during crises, and cross-sector collaboration to improve access to care and its impact on people who are experiencing comorbidity. Article available online

Reference: McCartney, L.E., Northe, V., Gordon, S., Symons, E., Shields, R., Kennedy, A., & Lee, S.J. (2019). Promoting cross-sector collaboration and input into care planning via an integrated problem gambling and mental health service. Journal of Gambling Issues, 42.