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.

Financial recovery from problem gambling: problem gamblers’ experiences of social assistance and other financial support

By Maria Heiskanen.

The objective of this article is to understand problem gamblers’ experiences of recovery from financial difficulties caused by problem gambling. Specifically, financial social assistance from public services is considered. A sample of 17 interviews with Finnish self-identified, treatment-seeking problem gamblers from various financial positions was analyzed qualitatively using thematic content analysis. The analysis revealed four themes. The first theme examines how the financial concerns of problem gamblers were left unaddressed by treatment professionals. The second theme discusses the rationalizations behind not applying for or not receiving financial social assistance from public services. The reasons behind not applying for financial social assistance were related to financial stability and perceived pride derived from surviving independently (loss of pride when not being able to survive independently). Not receiving assistance despite applying for it was mostly because of their income having been assessed as adequate by the social services. Third theme examines receiving financial social assistance during, or after, problematic gambling. Participants living on welfare often spent their benefits on gambling in the hopes of an increased income. Recovering lower-income problem gamblers also received financial social assistance for living expenses or for treatment. Fourth, non-governmental and more controlling forms of financial support were (1) financial assistance within private safety nets, (2) support for over-indebtedness from an NGO, or (3) private person/official authority taking control over problem gamblers’ financial matters. The socio-economic background factors are important to address when designing financial and other support for problem gamblers. The results of this study provide useful information for future survey studies of the topic.

Food Addiction in Gambling Disorder: Frequency and Clinical Outcomes

By Susana Jiménez-Murcia, Roser Granero, Ines Wolz, Marta Baño, Gemma Mestre-Bach, Trevor Steward, Zaida Agüera, Anke Hinney, Carlos Diéguez, Felipe F. Casanueva, Ashley N. Gearhardt, Anders Hakansson, José M. Menchón, and Fernando Fernández-Aranda.

Background: The food addiction (FA) model is receiving increasing interest from the scientific community. Available empirical evidence suggests that this condition may play an important role in the development and course of physical and mental health conditions such as obesity, eating disorders, and other addictive behaviors. However, no epidemiological data exist on the comorbidity of FA and gambling disorder (GD), or on the phenotype for the co-occurrence of GD+FA.

Objectives: To determine the frequency of the comorbid condition GD+FA, to assess whether this comorbidity features a unique clinical profile compared to GD without FA, and to generate predictive models for the presence of FA in a GD sample.

Method: Data correspond to N = 458 treatment-seeking patients who met criteria for GD in a hospital unit specialized in behavioral addictions.

Results: Point prevalence for FA diagnosis was 9.2%. A higher ratio of FA was found in women (30.5%) compared to men (6.0%). Lower FA prevalence was associated with older age. Patients with high FA scores were characterized by worse psychological state, and the risk of a FA diagnosis was increased in patients with high scores in the personality traits harm avoidance and self-transcendence, and low scores in cooperativeness (R2 = 0.18).

Conclusion: The co-occurrence of FA in treatment-seeking GD patients is related to poorer emotional and psychological states. GD treatment interventions and related behavioral addictions should consider potential associations with problematic eating behavior and aim to include techniques that aid patients in better managing this behavior.

The Effect of Casino Proximity on Lottery Sales: Evidence from Maryland

By Will E. Cummings, Douglas M. Walker, Chad D. Cotti.

The continued expansion of the casino industry has caused increasing concern regarding the cannibalization of other industries, and in particular, state lotteries. For example, Maryland Lottery sales flattened shortly after casinos began opening in the state. Although previous papers have found that casinos and lotteries have a negative relationship with each other, no previous research has analyzed the impact of casino proximity on lottery sales or has examined the relationship between casinos and different types of lottery games. In this paper, we examine ZIP code-level monthly lottery sales data from Maryland between July 2009 and February 2014, in order to test the impact of casino proximity on lottery sales, by type of game. Our findings indicate that aggregate lottery sales decline more in closer proximity to casinos, but that casinos affect different lottery products differently. We discuss the consumer behavior and public finance implications of the findings. (JEL H27, H4, L83)

The “Walk of Shame”: a Qualitative Study of the Influences of Negative Stereotyping of Problem Gambling on Gambling Attitudes and Behaviours

By Helen E. Miller, Samantha Thomas.

Problem gambling is known to be associated with significant stigma, but there is limited research on the negative stereotypes that underpin this judgement. Understanding the stereotypes that contribute to the stigmatisation of problem gambling may help to identify new approaches to reducing gambling stigma. Using data collected during 100 in-depth qualitative interviews with gamblers in Victoria, Australia, we explored factors which underpin negative stereotypes about people with gambling problems, the influence of negative stereotypes on behaviours and attitudes and differences in attitudes to different gambling products. Participants perceived that people with gambling problems were lacked responsibility and control, as were “lazy”, “stupid” and “greedy.” Electronic gambling machine (EGM) gamblers were particularly stigmatised. Negative stereotypes focusing on personal responsibility led to feelings of guilt and shame in people with gambling problems, as well as increased social isolation, and also impacted on moderate-risk gamblers, who contrasted their own behaviour with a stereotyped idea of a person with a gambling problem. Participants linked stereotyped portrayals of problem gambling to discussions of the gambling industry, which they perceived focused on control and responsibility, and the media, which they perceived emphasised extreme negative consequences from gambling. This study suggests that negative stereotypes focusing on personal responsibility for gambling problems are a factor leading to the stigmatisation of people with gambling problems.