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. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09864-x

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The lie of ‘responsible gambling’: Australia’s world-beating gambling addiction and the deception hiding it [open-access article].

[From the introduction]: One explanation for Australia’s world-record gambling spend is cultural preference. From Birdsville to the trenches, a love of the punt has supposedly been central to national identity. The other explanation for why Australians became the world’s biggest gamblers during the 1990s was that the expansion of gambling was a deliberate government policy choice.
Australia was not a highly ranked gambling nation in the 1970s. There was betting at race tracks, at government-¬owned TABs and on lotteries. Sports betting was illegal and although there were poker machines in clubs in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, these were unsophisticated contraptions that could only be played with small coins. Even the first casinos in regional centres were pokies-free.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, state governments became cash-strapped because of the abolition of various taxes (including death and gift duties), and burgeoning demands on health, education and community services. With the exception of resource-rich Western Australia (where pokies are confined to the casino), governments turned to poker machines to help resolve the revenue shortfall. Pokies were introduced into pubs and clubs not in response to public pressure but in spite of it. In Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia the policy change was opposed by a majority of the population. Their governments pressed on regardless. Article available online

Reference: Boyce, J. (2019).  The lie of ‘responsible gambling’: Australia’s world-beating gambling addiction and the deception hiding it. The Monthly, (June). Retrieved from https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2019/june/1559397600/james-boyce/lie-responsible-gambling

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

Trait Mindfulness, Problem-Gambling Severity, Altered State of Awareness and Urge to Gamble in Poker-Machine Gamblers

McKeith, C. F. A., Rock, A. J., & Clark, G. I.

In Australia, poker-machine gamblers represent a disproportionate number of problem gamblers. To cultivate a greater understanding of the psychological mechanisms involved in poker-machine gambling, a repeated measures cue-reactivity protocol was administered. A community sample of 38 poker-machine gamblers was assessed for problem-gambling severity and trait mindfulness. Participants were also assessed regarding altered state of awareness (ASA) and urge to gamble at baseline, following a neutral cue, and following a gambling cue. Results indicated that: (a) urge to gamble significantly increased from neutral cue to gambling cue, while controlling for baseline urge; (b) cue-reactive ASA did not significantly mediate the relationship between problem-gambling severity and cue-reactive urge (from neutral cue to gambling cue); (c) trait mindfulness was significantly negatively associated with both problem-gambling severity and cue-reactive urge (i.e., from neutral cue to gambling cue, while controlling for baseline urge); and (d) trait mindfulness did not significantly moderate the effect of problem-gambling severity on cue-reactive urge (from neutral cue to gambling cue). This is the first study to demonstrate a negative association between trait mindfulness and cue-reactive urge to gamble in a population of poker-machine gamblers. Thus, this association merits further evaluation both in relation to poker-machine gambling and other gambling modalities.