The Unintended Normalization of Gambling: Family Identity Influences on the Adoption of Harmful Consumption Practices

By Westberg, K., Beverland, M. B., & Thomas, S. L. 

Although gambling has been legitimized as a form of leisure, this consumption activity can have individual and social costs. Policy approaches often focus on problem gambling as a discrete activity undertaken by an individual. Drawing on social practice theory and family identity research, we take an alternative approach, identifying how exposure to gambling can occur in emergent ways that can have an unintended but lasting effect. Based on 40 depth interviews, we identify how the pursuit of four family identity goals (membership and bonding, coming-of-age, emotional sustenance, and communing) plays a role in the normalization of gambling in childhood. We then explore how these goals and family gambling practices may contribute to gambling behaviour longer term. Finally, we examine the interplay between family identity goals at the meso-level, and wider macro-level socio-cultural institutions. Policy and social marketing initiatives that acknowledge the influence of identity-related gambling behaviour are recommended.

Stability of problematic gaming and associations with problematic gambling: A three-year follow-up study of adolescents in the SALVe-cohort

S. Vadlin, C. Åslund, K.W. Nilsson.

Aim: The aims of the present study was to investigate the long-term stability of problematic gaming among adolescents, and whether problematic gaming at wave 1 (W1) were associated with problematic gambling at wave 2 (W2), three years later.
Methods: Data from the SALVe-Cohort, including adolescents in Västmanland born in 1997 and 1999, at two waves were analyzed (W1, n = 1868; 1035 girls, W2, n = 1576; 914 girls). Adolescents self-rated the Gaming Addiction Identification Test (GAIT), Problematic Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), and gambling frequencies. Stability of gaming using Gamma correlation, and Spearman’s rho was performed. General linear model analysis (GLM), and logistic regression analysis were performed, adjusted for sex, age, and ethnicity using PGSI as dependent variable, and GAIT as independent variable, for investigating associations between problematic gaming and problematic gambling.
Results: Problematic gaming was stable over time, γ = 0.810, P ≤ 0.001, and ρ = 0.555, P ≤ 0.001. Furthermore, problematic gaming at wave 1 increased the probability of having problematic gambling three years later, GLM F = 3.357, η2 = 0.255, P ≤ 0.001, and logistic regression OR = 5.078 (95% CI: 1.388–18.575), P = 0.014. Male sex was associated with higher probability of problematic gambling.
Conclusions: The present study highlights the importance of screening for problematic gambling among problematic gamers in order not to overlook possible coexisting gambling problems. The stability of problematic gaming indicates a need for development and evaluation of treatment for problematic gaming and also for coexisting gambling problems.

Vadlin, S., Åslund, C., & Nilsson, K. W. (2017). Stability of problematic gaming and associations with problematic gambling: A three-year follow-up study of adolescents in the SALVe-cohort. European Psychiatry, 41, S882.

An Exploratory Study of the Impacts of Gambling on Affected Others Accessing a Social Service

Jason Landon, Elizabeth Grayson, Amanda Roberts

Problem gambling affects many people beyond the problem gambler themselves. Help-seeking is relatively rare among affected others, especially those in lower socio-economic communities. However, these affected others are sometimes in contact with other support agencies. The present research interviewed 10 people seeking support through a social agency who reported being affected by someone else’s gambling. Data from semi-structured interviews were analysed using an inductive descriptive approach to identify three themes: (1) This is ugly, (2) It affects everything and (3) I just do it by myself. The results highlight the normality of harmful gambling across generations, the lack of any positive aspects to gambling for affected others and the impacts on families and children. Specific gambling-related help-seeking remains rare; however, the opportunity to provide support, information and advice on approaches to coping to affected others as they contact social services is highlighted.

On the feasibility of in-venue observations of EGM gamblers and game characteristics

Jason Landon, Katie Palmer du Preez, Maria Bellringer, Max Abbott, and Amanda Roberts.

Detailed observational studies of undisturbed gambler behaviour in venues are rare, especially if the focus is on continuous gambling such as electronic gaming machines (EGMs). EGMs are the main source of harmful gambling in New Zealand and all EGMs in New Zealand now include a mandatory pop-up message feature. The present study reports on 48 hours of in-situ observations of EGM gamblers in casino and non-casino (pub) venues in New Zealand and sought to establish whether relatively detailed observations of EGM features and gambler behaviour in venues were possible. Pop-up messages were the EGM feature focused on given their harm-minimisation potential, and the relative ease with which they can be observed. However, other EGM features were also documented along with descriptive accounts of associated gambler behaviour. The results establish that relatively detailed (quantitative or qualitative) observational data can be collected in venues using smart phones. The data showed pop-up messages were generally attended to but had little observable effect on gambler behaviour in venues. Direct in-situ observation of gamblers can provide ecologically valid information to compliment more common experimental and survey-based approaches. Some suggestions for developing the procedure are discussed.

Episodic and Binge Gambling: An Exploration and Preliminary Quantitative Study (open access)

By S. Cowlishaw, E. Nespoli, J.K. Jebadurai, N. Smith, and H. Bowden-Jones.

The DSM-5 includes provisions for episodic forms of gambling disorder, with such changes aligned with earlier accounts of potential binge gambling behaviours. However, there is little research that indicates the utility of these classifications of episodic or binge gambling, and this study considered their characteristics in a clinical sample. It involved administration of a new binge gambling screening tool, along with routine measures, to n = 214 patients entering a specialist treatment clinic for gambling problems. Results indicated that episodic gambling was common in this clinical context, with 28 and 32% of patients reporting gambling episodes that were (a) regular and alternating, and (b) irregular and intermittent, respectively. These patterns were distinguished by factors including associations with covariates that indicated differences from continuous gamblers. For example, the irregular episodic gamblers, but not the regular pattern, demonstrated lower levels of problem gambling severity and comorbidity. Rates of potential binge gambling, which was defined in terms of additional criteria, were around 4% and numbers were insufficient for comparable analyses. The findings support inclusion of episodic forms of gambling disorder in the DSM-5, but highlight the need for improved recognition and research on heterogeneous forms of episodic gambling.

Children’s attitudes towards Electronic Gambling Machines: an exploratory qualitative study of children who attend community clubs (open access)

By Amy Bestman, Samantha Thomas, Melanie Randle and Hannah Pitt

This research sought to explore whether children’s visual and auditory exposure to Electronic Gambling Machines (EGMs) in community clubs contributed to shaping their attitudes towards these types of potentially harmful gambling products. This research also examined children’s knowledge of EGM behaviours in adults within their social networks.

Risk Factors for Gambling Problems on Online Electronic Gaming Machines, Race Betting and Sports Betting (open access)

By  Nerilee Hing, Alex M. Russell and Matthew Browne

Growth of Internet gambling has fuelled concerns about its contribution to gambling problems. However, most online gamblers also gamble on land-based forms, which may be the source of problems for some. Studies therefore need to identify the problematic mode of gambling (online or offline) to identify those with an online gambling problem. Identifying most problematic form of online gambling (e.g., EGMs, race betting, sports betting) would also enable a more accurate examination of gambling problems attributable to a specific online gambling form. This study pursued this approach, aiming to: (1) determine demographic, behavioral and psychological risk factors for gambling problems on online EGMs, online sports betting and online race betting; (2) compare the characteristics of problematic online gamblers on each of these online forms. An online survey of 4,594 Australian gamblers measured gambling behavior, most problematic mode and form of gambling, gambling attitudes, psychological distress, substance use, help-seeking, demographics and problem gambling status. Problem/moderate risk gamblers nominating an online mode of gambling as their most problematic, and identifying EGMs (n = 98), race betting (n = 291) or sports betting (n = 181) as their most problematic gambling form, were compared to non-problem/low risk gamblers who had gambled online on these forms in the previous 12 months (n = 64, 1145 and 1213 respectively), using bivariate analyses and then logistic regressions. Problem/moderate risk gamblers on each of these online forms were then compared. Risk factors for online EGM gambling were: more frequent play on online EGMs, substance use when gambling, and higher psychological distress. Risk factors for online sports betting were being male, younger, lower income, born outside of Australia, speaking a language other than English, more frequent sports betting, higher psychological distress, and more negative attitudes toward gambling. Risk factors for online race betting comprised being male, younger, speaking a language other than English, more frequent race betting, engaging in more gambling forms, self-reporting as semi-professional/professional gambler, illicit drug use whilst gambling, and more negative attitude toward gambling. These findings can inform improved interventions tailored to the specific characteristics of high risk gamblers on each of these online activities.