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


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

National market protectionist gambling policies in the European Union: The Finnish gambling monopoly merger as a case in point.

Available online – Policy paper published in the Journal of Gambling Issues.

Abstract: A rapidly growing globalized and digitalized gambling industry has compelled European jurisdictions to take action in order to secure some level of gambling market control, to secure public funds from gambling, and to protect citizens from gambling-related harm. This study concerns the market protectionist endeavour to merge three gambling operators into one state-owned monopoly in Finland in 2017. The justification of the systemic change is analysed in key policy documents and media reporting that discerns the political narratives that nudged the monopoly merger from the idea stage to its completion. Within the narratives, the merger is presented as necessary due to the threats of market intrusion by foreign gambling operators and the likelihood of an internal system implosion framed by European Union (EU) law. The worries expressed in the studied materials plug into a general zeitgeist of globalization. The justifications of the systemic change presuppose the inevitable determination of the change and an innate and constant human desire to gamble. Critical views on the merger were introduced in the media at a late stage, stressing the role of the media as a facilitator and manufacturer of political consent. The study demonstrates how market protectionist justifications can, through the maintenance of a regulated gambling market, assure preservation of national public funds obtained from gambling in the EU. The official gambling policy objective of securing public health played a secondary role in the process. Full article

Reference: Selin, J., Hellman, M. & Lerkkanen, T. (2019). National market protectionist gambling policies in the European Union: The Finnish gambling monopoly merger as a case in point. Journal of Gambling Issues, 41. Retrieved from http://jgi.camh.net/index.php/jgi/article/view/4040.

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

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. Access policy paper

Citation: Irwin Lipnowski & Austin McWhirter. (2018). Journal of Gambling Issues, 40. 

An exploratory study of gamblers’ perceptions of music’s effects on gambling behaviour [open access article]

Abstract: Background music is often present in gambling environments and has been found to influence gamblers’ behaviour. However, little is known about gamblers’ perception of environmental influences, including music, and whether gamblers believe that such influences can impact upon their gambling behaviour. An online questionnaire was administered to 136 gamblers to probe the perceived effects of gambling operator-selected and self-selected music on the cognitive, emotional, and behavioural aspects of gambling … This study demonstrates that self-selected music is sometimes purposefully used by gamblers to support the cognitive and emotional aspects of gambling. However, as few gamblers believed that music could influence the cognitive, emotional, and behavioural aspects of gambling, this research reveals a disparity between subjective opinions and objective evidence, as gathered in published empirical laboratory experiments. This indicates the need to improve gamblers’ awareness of the potential influence of background music on the gambling experience. Access full article

Citation: Stephanie Bramley, Nicola Dibben, & Richard Rowe. (2018). Journal of Gambling Issues, 40. 

Perceptions of problem gambling among methadone maintenance treatment clients and counsellors [open access article]

Abstract: Problem gambling is highly prevalent and rarely treated among clients who attend methadone maintenance treatment programs (MMTPs). Compared with those of the general population, rates of gambling disorder have been found to be elevated among individuals receiving methadone maintenance treatment. Our study aims were to (a) develop a clearer understanding of the gambling experience of clients and counsellors at a methadone clinic and (b) gain insight into the current treatment options and obstacles to treatment in the clinic. Semi-structured interviews focusing on gambling issues were conducted with 8 clients and 8 counsellors at an MMTP located in an urban area. Participants were asked questions to gain an understanding about their perspectives on, treatment options for, and treatment barriers to problem gambling in the clinic. Data were coded by 4 investigators by using a constant comparison, open coding approach. The findings revealed important differences between clients and counsellors: Opinions differed on the definition of problem gambling, obstacles to treatment, and optimal treatment settings. Clients and counsellors also agreed on some elements, including the negative impact that problem gambling can have on recovery from substance use. This examination of responses of counsellors and client feedback provides a useful mechanism to better understand problem gambling in MMTPs. In addition, the findings have important clinical implications, including a need for more effective screening and treatment in MMTPs and to provide substance use counsellors with training related to problem gambling. Access full article

Megan E. Wall, Cassandra R. Durand, Hana Machover, Rachel Arnold, Haley A. Miles-McLean, Wendy Potts, Loreen Rugle, Christopher Welsh, Seth Himelhoch. (2018). Journal of Gambling Issues.


Hardwired for risk: The clinical utility of exploring evolutionary aspects of gambling [open access article]

Introduction: Evolutionary perspectives increasingly inform the research on addiction. As this knowledge base advances, an increasing corresponding need to translate these understandings into a manner that promotes clinical innovation has consequently emerged. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of emerging perspectives on evolutionary and neurobiological aspects of gambling and to consider how such perspectives can inform and enhance clinical practice. Access full article

By John Paulson, Department of Social Work, University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN, USA. Journal of Gambling Issues, 2018.