Cue-reactive imagery mediates the relationships of reward responsiveness with both cue-reactive urge to gamble and positive affect in poker-machine gamblers [subscription-access article].

Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated that gambling cues (e.g., flashing lights on poker-machines) can trigger an urge to gamble in poker-machine gamblers. However, the psychological mechanisms that promote the urge to gamble remain poorly understood. The present study explored whether reward responsiveness predicted urge to gamble and positive affect, and whether cue-reactive rationality, volitional control and imagery mediated these relationships. Ninety-three (45% male and 55% female) Australian regular poker-machine gamblers aged between 18 and 77 participated in an online cue-reactivity experiment. Participants initially completed the Problem Gambling Severity Index and Reward Responsiveness scale. Subsequently, at three time points (i.e., baseline, directly after a neutral cue and directly after a gambling cue) participants completed the rationality, volitional control and imagery subscales of the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory and two visual analogue scales that measured urge to gamble and positive affect. Analyses indicated that gambling cues triggered statistically significant increases in both urge to gamble and positive affect and these variables were statistically significantly positively correlated with reward responsiveness. Furthermore, only cue-reactive imagery mediated the relationships between reward responsiveness and the two outcome variables (i.e., cue-reactive urge to gamble and positive affect). These findings highlight the potential importance of targeting reward responsiveness and cue-reactive mental imagery in the context of exposure therapies for poker-machine problem gamblers. Article details and access conditions

Reference: Dale, G., Rock, A.J. & Clark, G.I. (2019). Cue-reactive imagery mediates the relationships of reward responsiveness with both cue-reactive urge to gamble and positive affect in poker-machine gamblers. Journal of Gambling Studies.


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

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. Article available online

Reference: Lipnowski, I., & McWhirter, A. (2018). Optimal public policy for government-operated gambling. Journal of Gambling Issues, 40(December). Retrieved from

Problem gambling and psychiatric comorbidity—risk and temporal sequencing among women and men: Results from the Swelogs Case–Control Study [open-access article].

Abstract: It is well known that many problem gamblers also suffer from other psychiatric conditions. However, knowledge regarding the temporal sequencing of the conditions is lacking, as well as insight in possible gender specific patterns. The aim of this study was to examine the risk for psychiatric comorbidity among problem gamblers compared to non-problem gamblers in the general Swedish population, as well as the age of onset and the temporal sequencing of problem gambling and the comorbid psychiatric conditions among lifetime problem gamblers. A case–control study nested in the Swelogs cohort was used. For both the female and the male problem gamblers, the risk for having had a lifetime psychiatric condition was double or more than double compared to the controls. Having experienced anxiety or depression before gambling onset, constituted a risk for developing problem gambling for the women but not for the men. Further, the female cases initiated gambling after their first period of anxiety, depression and problems with substances, and problem gambling was the last condition to evolve. Opposite this, the male cases initiated gambling before any condition evolved, and depression and suicidal events emerged after problem gambling onset. There were large differences in mean age of onset between the female cases and their controls, this was not the case for the males. Gender specific patterns in the association between problem gambling and psychiatric comorbidity, as well as in the development of problem gambling needs to be considered in treatment planning as well as by the industry in their advertising. Article available online

Reference: Sundqvist, K. & Rosendahl, I. (2019).Problem gambling and psychiatric comorbidity—risk and temporal sequencing among women and men: Results from the Swelogs Case–Control Study. Journal of Gambling Studies. Retrieved from

A quantification of the net consumer-surplus from gambling participation [open-access article].

Aims. Gambling exposes people to risk for harm, but also has recreational benefits. The present study aimed to measure gambling harm and gambling benefits on similar scales using two novel methods adapted from the Burden of Disease approach (McCormack, Horne, & Sheather, 1988; Torrance, Thomas, & Sackett, 1972) to find whether gambling either adds or subtracts from quality of life.
Method. A Tasmanian population-representative survey of 5,000 adults (2534 female) from random digit dialling (RDD) of landline telephones in Tasmania (50%), as well as pre-screened Tasmanian RDD mobiles (17%) and listed mobile numbers (33%), measured gambling benefits and harms amongst gamblers (59.2%) and a non-exclusive set of people who were “affected” by someone else’s gambling (4.5%).
Results. The majority of gamblers indicated no change to their quality of life from gambling (82.5% or 72.6% based on Direct Elicitation (DE) or Time Trade Off (TTO) methods, respectively). Nevertheless, a weighted average of all the positive and negative influences on quality of life, inclusive of gamblers and affected others, revealed that the quality of life change from gambling is either a very modest +0.05% or a more concerning -1.9% per capita.
Conclusions. Gambling generates only small or negative net consumer surpluses for Tasmanians. Article available online

Reference: Rockloff, M.J., Browne, M., Russell, A.M.T., Merkouris, S.S., & Dowling, N.A. (2019). A quantification of the net consumer-surplus from gambling participation. Journal of Gambling Studies

The Same or Different? Convergence of Skin Gambling and Other Gambling Among Children

Available online – article from the Journal of Gambling Studies via SpringerLink.

Abstract: There is increasing attention on the introduction of gambling-like practices within video games. Termed convergence, this has been explored from the viewpoint of the product, examining similarities in game/gambling mechanics. Understanding convergence of practice is essential to map the epidemiology of these behaviours, especially among children. This paper focuses on the betting of skins within video games to explore co-occurrence with other forms of gambling among British children aged 11–16. Analysing the British Youth Gambling Survey showed that 39% of children who bet on skins in the past month had also gambled on other activities. Betting on skins and other forms of gambling increased with age and concordance of skin gambling/betting was greatest for those who also gambled online. Among gamblers, those who bet skins had higher rates of at-risk and problem gambling than those who did not (23% vs. 8%), though they had a greater breath of gambling involvement. Skin gambling alone was not significantly associated with at-risk gambling when other forms of gambling activity were taken into account. Skin betting and gambling on other activities cluster together, especially where the medium underpinning the behaviours is the same. Children who engage in both skin gambling/betting and other forms of gambling should be considered at-risk for the experience of harms because of their heightened engagement in gambling and gambling-like activities. Access article online

Reference: Wardle, H. (2019). The Same or Different? Convergence of Skin Gambling and Other Gambling Among Children. Journal of Gambling Studies. doi:

Consumer perspectives of a multi-venue gambling self-exclusion program: A qualitative process analysis

Available online – from the Journal of Gambling Studies

Abstract: Self-exclusion is an important harm minimization strategy implemented by gambling operators to restrict a problem gambler’s access to gambling opportunities. Aspects of self-exclusion, including low uptake and non-compliance, limit the effectiveness of programs. Research that considers the consumer perspective is needed to enhance the perceived utility of self-exclusion in the target audience. Twenty interviews were conducted with current (n = 13) and former (n = 7) participants of a multi-venue self-exclusion program for land-based gaming machine venues in New South Wales, Australia. Participants were asked open-ended questions about their experiences and opinions of the program, including its strengths and weaknesses, and suggested improvements for future consumers. Overall, participants found self-exclusion beneficial. However, several shortcomings of the program were expressed, including lack of available public information and overly complicated registration processes. Participants lacked confidence in venues’ willingness and ability to identify non-compliant gamblers and highlighted the need for vastly improved detection systems. The quality of interactions with venue staff in relation to self-exclusion were mixed; counsellor support, however, was perceived as important from beginning to end of a self-exclusion period. Results suggest that gambling operators should increase marketing efforts to promote the availability and benefits of self-exclusion. Investigation of strategies to streamline registration processes and to augment detection systems with new technologies was supported. Venue staff may benefit from training in appropriate self-exclusion facilitation procedures. Gambling operators should aim to foster strong links between self-exclusion programs and professional gambling counselling services. Access full article

Reference: Pickering, D., Nong, Z., Gainsbury, S.M. & Blaszczynski, A. (2019). Consumer perspectives of a multi-venue gambling self-exclusion program: A qualitative process analysis. Journal of Gambling Studies, 41.

Peer group identification as determinant of youth behavior and the role of perceived social support in problem gambling [open access article]

Abstract: Gambling opportunities have increased rapidly during recent years. Previous research shows that gambling is a popular activity among youth, which may contribute to problem gambling. This study examined how social identification with online and offline peer groups associates with youth problem gambling behavior and if perceived social support buffers this relationship. Data were gathered with an online survey with 1212 American and 1200 Finnish participants between 15 and 25 years of age. Measures included the South Oaks Gambling Screen for problem gambling, and items for peer group identification and perceived social support.

It was found that youth who identify strongly with offline peer groups were less likely to engage in problem gambling, while strong identification with online peer groups had the opposite effect. We also found that the associations between social identification and problem gambling behavior were moderated by perceived social support. Online peer groups may be a determinant in youth problem gambling. Focusing on offline peer groups and increasing social support can hold significant potential in youth gambling prevention. Access full article

Savolainen, I., Sirola, A., Kaakinen, M., et al. (2018). Journal of Gambling Studies.