Targeting problem gambling relapse risk factors: Lack of social connectedness and leisure substitution [open-access thesis]

This research added an innovative, critical component to the current problem gambling treatment approaches available in Australia. It targeted a susceptible and significant group of people who experience gambling-related harm but find it difficult to stop gambling and not to start again. Relapse in problem gambling and treatment dropout is common, with a rate of up to 70% being generally accepted.
To date, gambling interventions specifically targeting risk factors for relapse have not been the focus of many studies. The author of this thesis, who has lived experience with problem gambling, designed a structured group program targeting two identified risk factors for gambling relapse: 1) lack of social connectedness, and 2) lack of leisure substitution. Between 2009 and 2016, four versions of this program were trialled. All program participants were supported by a group of volunteers, most of whom had lived experience with problem gambling and were participants in previous program versions. Four versions of the program were evaluated using a multi-method approach. Quantitative data were collected using validated psychosocial measures. Journaled observation by the author, anecdotal evidence and journaled participants quotes were documented by the author in various project reports and are used in this thesis to support the qualitative findings.
The results of the quantitative data revealed significant improvement for participants in the areas of social connectedness, self-efficacy, and mental health. Importantly, the results also indicated that the program supported the goals of either abstinence from, or control over, gambling behaviour for program completers. It is concluded that this innovative program helped to reconnect people to activities other than gambling and to a supportive community and, in so doing, effectively achieved the research objectives.
An extra qualitative study ‘Volunteer study’ was conducted to explore if the aspect of ‘volunteering’ made a positive contribution to sustain behavioural changes that were achieved by previous program participation. This exploratory study utilised 14 in-depth semi-structured interviews with current volunteers of the trialled relapse-focused programs from studies 1-4. This part of the research indicated that volunteering for any of the peer support relapse focused programs provided significant benefits to an individual’s recovery from problem gambling. The sample was a small convenience sample, so it is not possible to generalise the findings but offers an opportunity to further explore the importance of volunteering in recovery. Link to the article

Citation: Byrne, G.H. (2019). Targeting Problem Gambling Relapse Risk Factors: Lack of Social Connectedness and Leisure Substitution (PhD Thesis, Victoria University). Retrieved from

Exploring the relationship between individual gambling behaviour and accessibility to gambling venues in New Zealand – online open-access thesis

Abstract: Gambling is an important recreational activity in New Zealand, with high levels of participation by the general public. Although gambling activities are an important source of employment and a means of raising funds for various community and sporting purposes, gambling on electronic gambling machines (EGMs), both in casino and non-casino venues are known to be correlated with gambling-related harm, resulting in higher levels of personal, familial, health and societal problems.
After undertaking a review of relevant literature on participation in gambling activities and accessibility to gambling venues, it was found that although studies examining the accessibility of venues with EGMs have been researched to some extent in an overseas context, studies pertaining to such venues in New Zealand have been limited. This study therefore aimed to investigate the link between accessibility to gambling venues with EGMs, including distance-wise proximity to such venues and the number of these venues within a certain distance, and their impact on gambling behaviour of individuals.
Thesis available online via AUT Library

Reference: Bonamis, A.E. (2019). Exploring the relationship between individual gambling behaviour and accessibility to gambling venues in New Zealand (Doctoral dissertation, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand). Retrieved from

The association between demographic factors, mental health and gambling behaviour / Catharine Bregazzi [open access thesis]

Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the BA Hons in
Psychology at Dublin Business School, School of Arts, Dublin.

Abstract: Gambling behaviour and its impact on mental health is an area of great interest, particularly with the growing rate of gambling participation. The current study aims to extend previous research by investigating differences in Mental Health (Depression, Anxiety and Stress) between Non-Gamblers, In-Person Gamblers and Online Gamblers and the association between Gender, Employment Status, Age and the Likelihood to Gamble. This was investigated through a quantitative, cross sectional survey design. Volunteer participants were made up of 155 individuals (females=101, males=54) and ranged in age from 19 to 74 years old. A single online 92 item survey was used in order to gather data. Analysis showed no significant difference for differences in Mental Health between Non-Gamblers, In-Person Gamblers and Online Gamblers while the association between Gender, Employment Status, Age and the Likelihood to Gamble was partially supported. More research would need to be conducted to further investigate these results. Access thesis online from the Dublin Business School

Predictors of gambling-related problems in adult internet gamblers [open access thesis]

Foote, B. (2018). (PhD Thesis, Walden University). Retrieved from

Abstract: The use of the Internet to gamble has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. Although researchers have suggested that adult Internet gamblers are at high risk for developing a gambling disorder, few studies, overall, have been conducted on the effects of Internet gambling. Furthermore, conflicting research exists regarding what moderates gambling-related problems. The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine if age, gender, and emotions prior to the gambling experience are related predictors of Internet problem gambling severity. A retrospective design was used. The pathways model was used to support the belief that emotions felt before an Internet gambling session are associated with the severity of the gambling problem. Data were obtained from adult Internet gamblers who had Internet gambled in the preceding week. One hundred and fifty participants completed an online survey about the emotions they felt before an Internet-gambling session and self-reported the negative consequences of their gambling. The survey contained demographic questions, questions from the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (to assess emotions felt before participants’ last Internet gambling session), and questions from the Problem Gambling Severity Index. The results of the multiple linear regression analysis were significant, indicating that, as a group, participants’ age, gender, and emotions felt prior to the gambling experience predicted their problem gambling severity. This study can assist with prevention, early intervention, and treatment of adult Internet gamblers. Access thesis online from the University of Walden

The economics of gambling: A collection of essays (open access thesis)

Wheeler, Rhys (2018). (PhD Thesis, Lancaster University). Retrieved from:

Abstract: Chapter 2 examines the harm associated with being a problem gambler. Problem gambling is conventionally determined by having a score in a questionnaire screen that exceeds some critical value. The UK is fortunate in having large representative sample surveys that embed such questions, and our estimate from the 2010 survey is that several hundred thousand people in the UK could be afflicted by PG. However, existing literature has not evaluated the size of the harm associated with being a problem gambler and this chapter uses this individual level survey data to evaluate the effect of problem gambling on self-reported well-being. Together with a corresponding effect of income on well-being a money-metric of the harm associated with being a problem gambler is derived. An important methodological challenge is that well-being and the harm experienced may be simultaneously determined. Nonetheless, instrumental variable estimates suggest that problem gambling imposes an even larger reduction in well-being than least squares would suggest. The role of gambling expenditures in the transmission between problem gambling and well-being is considered, distinguishing between draw-based games, such as lotto, from scratchcards, and from other forms of gambling.

Chapter 3 investigates the price elasticity of demand for the UK National Lottery – astate-licensed, draw-based lotto game. Little is known about the price elasticity of demand for gambling products because the “price” is typically hard to define. The exception is “lotto” where an economics literature has focused on the response of sales to variations in the prize distribution. Existing literature has used these responses make inferences about the price elasticity of demand, where price is defined as the cost of entry minus the expected winnings. In particular, the variation in the value of the jackpot prize pool, due to rollovers that are a feature of lotto, has been used as an instrument for price. This chapter argues that rollovers do not make valid instruments, because of their correlation with lagged sales, and propose an alternative identification strategy which exploits two arcane features of lotto. Finally, this chapter evaluates whether changes to the design of the UK National Lottery in 2013 and 2015 had a positive effect on the sales figures.

Chapter 4 investigates the extent to which the large, flat-rate tax imposed on the UK National Lottery is regressive. This chapter evaluates a Working-Leser demand model for lotto tickets using both Heckman’s selection model and Cragg’s double hurdle estimator using v household-level data. A unique strategy is employed to identify these two-stage routines by exploiting exogenous differences in consumer preference arising from religious practice. The income elasticity of lottery tickets is found to be significantly lower than previous estimates, suggesting that lottery tickets are inferior goods and that the (high) flat-rate tax imposed on lotto tickets is more regressive than previously thought. Whilst the three chapters are stand-alone essays, they are linked by the use of modern statistical techniques and the use of the best possible data. Together, they address key issues on the economics of gambling and the results are new to their respective literatures and of interest to academics and policy makers alike. Access thesis online

Risk-taking and expenditure in digital roulette: Examining the impact of tailored dynamic information and warnings on gambling attitudes and behaviours [open access thesis]

McGivern, P. R. (2018). University of Derby [PhD Thesis].

Abstract: Digital gambling is the fastest growing form of gambling in the world (Reilly & Smith, 2013a). Technological advancements continually increase access to gambling, which has led to increased social acceptance and uptake (Dragicevic & Tsogas, 2014) with Roulette being among the most popular games played both online and on Electronic Gaming Machines. In response, gambling stakeholders have drawn on the structural characteristics of gambling platforms to develop and improve Responsible Gambling (RG) devices for casual gamblers. Many RG data-tracking systems employ intuitive ‘traffic-light’ metaphors that enable gamblers to monitor their gambling (e.g. Wood & Griffiths, 2008), though uptake of voluntary RG devices is low (Schellinck & Schrans, 2011), leading to calls for mandatory RG systems. Another area that has received considerable RG research focus involves the use of pop-up messages (Auer & Griffiths, 2014). Studies have examined various message content, such as correcting erroneous beliefs, encouraging self-appraisal, gambling cessation, and the provision of personalised feedback. To date, findings have been inconsistent but promising. A shift towards the use of personalised information has become the preferred RG strategy, though message content and timing/frequency requires improvement (Griffiths, 2014). Moreover, warning messages are unable to provide continuous feedback to gamblers. In response to this, and calls for a ‘risk meter’ to improve monitoring of gambling behaviours (Wiebe & Philander, 2013), this thesis tested the impact of a risk meter alongside improved pop-up warning messages as RG devices for within-session roulette gambling. Access thesis online from the University of Derby