A review of research into problem gambling amongst Australian women – book chapter available online

Abstract: Australian women have one of the highest levels of access to gambling of anywhere in the world. Problem gambling amongst Australian women is now a critical public health issue, fuelled by the widespread expansion of electronic gaming machines in casinos and suburban hotels and clubs, growth in alternative gambling products, the liberalisation of social attitudes to gambling, and increased financial and social independence of women. Recent increased access to gambling through the Internet and social media has also diversified women’s experience of gambling problems. However, research into Australian women’s gambling has been minimal, despite concerns about the feminisation of gambling. This chapter aims to review research into problem gambling amongst Australian women, highlighting key findings, limitations, gaps in knowledge, implications, and future research directions.
Drawing on three decades of Australian research, including prevalence studies, in-depth qualitative studies and clinical studies, women’s gambling behaviour, motivations, problem gambling, help-seeking, treatment and support are examined. Comparisons between male and female problem gamblers, and between female recreational and female problem gamblers, will highlight distinctive aspects of women’s problem gambling. This review will deepen understanding, inform gambling policy and public health and clinical responses, and facilitate international comparisons.
Access book chapter online

Reference: SHing, N., Nuske, E., & Breen, H. (2019). A review of research into problem gambling amongst Australian women. In, Problem gambling in women: An international perspective. Lismore, Australia: Centre for Gambling Education and Research, Southern Cross University.


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 https://openrepository.aut.ac.nz/handle/10292/12380

A blueprint for preventing and minimising harm from electronic gambling machines in the ACT [open access report]

Livingstone, C. (2018). Canberra Alliance for Gambling Reform, Canberra & Gambling & Social Determinants Unit School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne.

Introduction: The purpose of this report is to highlight issues with the current system of gambling regulation in the ACT, with particular reference to the regulation and operation of electronic gambling machines (EGMs). The ACT has a very high density of EGMs by Australian and world standards. The majority of gambling expenditure (i.e., losses by gamblers) is derived from EGM operations. This is true even taking into account on-line wagering. This means that the majority of harm experienced from gambling in the ACT is attributable to EGMs. The ACT Gambling & Racing Commission has indicated its alignment with a harm prevention and minimisation approach, using public health principles to guide this. At present, this approach has not been operationalised – that is, is has not yet filled out the details of what a gambling harm prevention and minimisation approach would entail. This report seeks to provide a range of options to support an active harm minimisation approach. The options outlined in this report are not exhaustive, but they are oriented towards those that can be achieved in the short to medium term. They provide a basis for focusing regulation on the prevention of harm. Continue to full report

The “Zone”: a qualitative exploratory study of an altered state of awareness in electronic gaming machine problem gambling [subscription access article]

Oakes, J., Pols, R., Lawn, S. et al. (2018). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-018-9976-7

Abstract: This paper reports a state of mind described by electronic gaming machine (EGM) problem gamblers (PGs) as the “zone”. Twenty-nine PGs engaged in focus groups and in-depth interviews. Participants described an altered state of awareness: the zone, which was highly desirable providing relief from negative emotions. PGs had difficulty recalling experiences whilst in the zone but described a constriction of attention, awareness and impairment of cognitive functions. During this time, the PG could not think critically, exercise self-observation, realistically appraise the use of money, see the consequences of their actions, exercise the will to cease gambling or learn from harms. Memory was impaired, as was decision-making and the capacity to make rational choices. Understanding the zone may provide insight into treatment where the capacity to learn may be reduced. Further research is needed to determine what proportions of EGM gamblers experience the zone and if this occurs with non-EGM gamblers. Article and access details

Gambling Participation, Expenditure and Risk of Harm in Australia, 1997–1998 and 2010–2011

By Armstrong, A. R., Thomas, A., & Abbott, M.

Abstract: Gambling-related harm results primarily from financial losses. Internationally Australia continues to rank as the largest spending nation per capita on gambling products. This would suggest that Australian gamblers are at disproportionately high risk of harm despite almost two decades of industry scrutiny and regulation, and investment in research, treatment and education programs. However, declines in participation rates, per capita expenditure, household expenditure, national disposable income spent on gambling and problem gambling rates have been cited as evidence that fewer people are gambling, that gamblers are spending less, and that gambling safety in Australia has improved. The current study investigated these propositions using national population and accounts data, and statistics from Australia’s two population-representative gambling surveys conducted in 1997–1998 and 2010–2011. Despite a falling participation rate the study found no real change in the number of people gambling overall, and increasing numbers consuming casino table games, race wagering and sports betting. Further found were increases rather than decreases in average gambler expenditure, overall, and across most products, particularly electronic gaming machines (EGMs). Potentially risky levels of average expenditure were observed in both periods, overall and for race wagering, casino table gaming, and EGMs. Changes in the proportion of income spent on gambling suggest risks declined overall and for race wagering and casino table gaming, but increased for EGMs. Finally, while problem gambling statistics were not comparable between periods, the study found double the number of moderate risk gamblers previously estimated for 2010–2011 amongst the 2 million Australians found to have experienced one or more gambling-related problems. The findings have implications for public health policy and resourcing, and the way in which prevalence and expenditure statistics have been interpreted by researchers, government and industry in Australia and elsewhere.

Armstrong, A. R., Thomas, A., & Abbott, M. (2017). Gambling Participation, Expenditure and Risk of Harm in Australia, 1997–1998 and 2010–2011. Journal of Gambling Studies, 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-017-9708-0


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.

The effects of alcohol expectancy and intake on slot machine gambling behavior (open access)

By Dominic Sagoe, Rune Aune Mentzoni, Tony Leino, Helge Molde, Sondre Haga, Mikjel Fredericson Gjernes, Daniel Hanss, and Ståle Pallesen.

Background and aims: Although alcohol intake and gambling often co-occur in related venues, there is conflicting evidence regarding the effects of alcohol expectancy and intake on gambling behavior. We therefore conducted an experimental investigation of the effects of alcohol expectancy and intake on slot machine gambling behavior.
Methods: Participants were 184 (females = 94) individuals [age range: 18–40 (mean = 21.9) years] randomized to four independent conditions differing in information/expectancy about beverage (told they received either alcohol or placebo) and beverage intake [actually ingesting low (target blood alcohol concentration [BAC] < 0.40 mg/L) vs. moderate (target BAC > 0.40 mg/L; ≈0.80 mg/L) amounts of alcohol]. All participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing demographic variables, subjective intoxication, alcohol effects (stimulant and sedative), and gambling factors (behavior and problems, evaluation, and beliefs). Participants also gambled on a simulated slot machine.
Results: A significant main effect of beverage intake on subjective intoxication and alcohol effects was detected as expected. No significant main or interaction effects were detected for number of gambling sessions, bet size and variation, remaining credits at termination, reaction time, and game evaluation.
Conclusion: Alcohol expectancy and intake do not affect gambling persistence, dissipation of funds, reaction time, or gambling enjoyment.