Purpose of Review: This review seeks to increase awareness of the broad range of interventions for problem gambling that focus on mitigating biased beliefs and behaviors. A secondary goal of this review is to stimulate thinking surrounding the use of so-called debiasing strategies within the areas of responsible gambling, prevention, and treatment of gambling problems. This is accomplished by classifying gambling interventions according to a taxonomy of debiasing strategies which is used more broadly within the field of decision science.
Recent Findings: Many interventions use cognitive and process-driven (known as technological) debiasing strategies. Furthermore, advances in technology to include digital games and online programs have the power to increase both the efficacy and appeal of such approaches. Unfortunately, far fewer interventions have taken advantage of affective and motivational debiasing strategies.
Summary: There are potential insights to be had and new directions to be explored by incorporating debiasing strategies and decision science into investigations of problem gambling interventions. Possibilities include identifying and examining understudied areas, combining debiasing strategies with existing treatments for problem gambling, developing multimodal debiasing interventions, and focusing explicitly on process-driven approaches. Article details and access conditions
Citation: Broussard, J.D. & Wulfert, E. (2019). Debiasing strategies for problem gambling: Using decision science to inform clinical interventions. Current Addiction Reports. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-019-00263-1
Abstract: In the last years, the debate on the use of psychedelics in psychotherapeutic settings has intensified, attracting a lot of interest and attention from the scholarly community as well as from clinicians and paving the way for new therapeutic paradigms. Besides classical addictions and addictive behaviors, there exist forms of addictions, the so-called new addictions or behavioral addictions, whose characterization is not linked so much to substances but to widespread and socially accepted activities such as games, shopping, internet use, sex, love relationships, work and exercises, physical activities or sports.
Among the various addictions, the gambling disorder is the first form of behavioral addictions officially recognized by the DSM-V, in accordance with a wealth of neurobiological and clinical data showing the activation in patients of the gratification systems (especially dopamine).
Orthos, as intensive residential intervention program envisaging a non-moralistic approach to gambling, can be combined with the administration of psilocybin, a substance characterized by a very low potential for abuse, modulating brain areas and networks affected by addictive behaviors. Therefore, our proposal would be to start treating behavioral addictions combining psilocybin administration with existential-humanistic psychotherapy, like Orthos. Article available online
Reference: Raymondo, S., & Firenzuoli, F. (2019). Integrating psilocybin and existential-humanistic psychotherapy for pathological gambling treatment: a new perspective. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 15(1), 228–236.
Abstract: Online gambling has become increasingly popular over the past decade as has research using behavioural tracking (player account) data. To date, there is no study that has empirically investigated the effects of responsible gambling tools on loyalty. In the present study, the effect of voluntary limit-setting on player loyalty was evaluated over time using tracking data provided by an online gambling operator. More specifically, the authors were given access to an anonymised dataset of 175,818 players who had placed at least one bet or gambled at least once during January 2016 to May 2017 at the online gambling operator Kindred. The average age of the players was 31 years, and overall 18,484 of the players were female (10.5%). The dataset comprised a 20% random sample of the total player population of Kindred. In each of ten playing intensity groups, the percentage of active players in the first quarter of 2017 was higher in the group of players who had set voluntary money limits in the first quarter of 2016 compared to players that did not (suggesting players that set voluntary spending limits are more loyal compared to those who do not). The implications of these findings are discussed. Article available online
Reference: Auer, M., Hopfgartner, N., & Griffiths, M.D. (2019). An empirical study of the effect of voluntary limit-setting on gamblers’ loyalty using behavioural tracking data. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-019-00084-3
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the gambling factors related with the gambling problem level of adolescents to provide basic information for the prevention of adolescent gambling problems. The data was drawn from the 2015 Survey on Youth Gambling Problems of the Korea Center on Gambling Problems for Korean students in grades 7–11 (ages 13–17 years) and included 14,011 study subjects (average age 14.9 years, 52.5% male). The lifetime gambling behavior experience was 42.1%, and 24.2% had a gambling behavior experience within the past three months. The past three-month prevalence of problem gambling was 1.1%. The gambling factors related with the level of adolescent problem gambling include the presence of nearby gambling facilities, having personal relationships with people that gamble, a higher number of experienced gambling behaviors, male adolescents, and a greater amount of time spent gambling. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first report to identify gambling factors related with the level of adolescent problem gambling in Korean adolescents using national data. These findings suggest that gambling prevention efforts must consider not only access to individual adolescents as early intervention, but also environmental strategies such as accessibility regulations and alternative activities. Article available online
Reference: Kang, K., Ok, J.S., Kim, H., Lee, & K.-S. (2019). The gambling factors related with the level of adolescent problem gambler. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16, 2110.
Abstract: Women are participating in gambling at levels approaching those of men, and although levels of disordered gambling remain lower in women than in men, significant numbers are affected. Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a mainstay of help to problem gamblers in many countries. A scoping review was conducted which specifically addressed the experiences of women who attend GA. Within the 25 identified relevant studies, only two reported empirical data on the specific numbers of women attending. A range of barriers still remain to the participation of women in these communities. These include ‘external’ barriers such as lack of referral and signposting, lack of accessible meetings, and costs of travel; ‘internal’ barriers such as shame, stigma, and fear of disclosure; and features of the GA meetings and discourse, such as a climate which is dismissive of women’s experiences. Article available online
Reference: Rogers, J., Landon, J., Sharman, S., & Roberts, A. (2019). Anonymous women? A scoping review of the experiences of women in gamblers anonymous (GA). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-019-00101-5
Background and aims: Chasing refers to continued gambling in an attempt to recoup previous losses and is one of the diagnostic criteria for gambling disorder. However, research on the topic is still in its infancy. This study investigated whether chasing behavior mediates the relationship between time perspective and gambling severity.
Methods: Nonproblem gamblers (N = 26) and problem gamblers (N = 66) with the same demographic features (age and gender) were compared on the Consideration of Future Consequences and a computerized task assessing chasing. The Italian South Oaks Gambling Screen was used to discriminate participants in terms of gambling severity.
Results: Significant correlations were found relating to gambling severity, chasing, and time perspective. More specifically, the results showed that problem gamblers reported more chasing and a foreshortened time horizon. Chasers, compared to nonchasers, were found to be more oriented to the present. Regression analysis showed that male gender, present-oriented time perspective, and chasing were good predictors of gambling severity. Finally, to clarify if present orientation was on the path from chasing to gambling severity or if chasing was the mediator of the impact of present orientation on gambling severity, a path analysis was performed. The results indicated that present orientation had a direct effect on gambling severity and mediated the relationship between chasing and gambling involvement.
Conclusion: The findings support the exacerbating role of chasing in gambling disorder and for the first time show the relationship of time perspective, chasing, and gambling severity among adults. Article available online
Reference: Ciccarelli, M., Cosenza, M., Griffiths, M.D., D’Olimpio. F., & Nigro, G. (2019). The interplay between chasing behavior, time perspective, and gambling severity: An experimental study. Journal of Behavioral Addictions. DOI: 10.1556/2006.8.2019.29
Abstract: Licensing is currently the most popular option among regulators for controlling gambling operations. However, approximately 20% of operators are still public monopolies. Many forms of gambling (especially lotteries) are government operated even in countries with a licensing system. This creates an inherent conflict of interest, given that government is supposed to protect the wellbeing of its citizenry and to reap the benefits of gambling at the same time. At least in the gambling monopoly, however, addressing the unavoidable harm that results from gambling should be a priority. Industry self-regulation and reliance on “responsible gambling” rely too much on individuals to control their own gambling. It is suggested in this contribution that it is possible to provide more comprehensive consumer protection, recognising both the duty of governments to take care of their own citizens and the fact that industry self-regulation is not enough. Precommitment cards have been tested in various contexts, and have shown promise in terms of providing tools for individuals to restrict their own gambling. However, given the known shortcomings such as allowing the use of other cards that are not one’s own, and other venues, it is clear that in themselves they do not guarantee effective prevention. Personal licensing is therefore explored as a move forward in this literature-based discussion. Although the system may be applicable to other contexts, the focus is on the Nordic countries. Given that the underlying justification for gambling monopolies is to control gambling-related harm, in the cases of Finland and Norway licensing could be combined with loyalty cards introduced by monopoly operators. This would provide a feasible alternative to current practices of responsible gambling. Article available online
Reference: Nikkinen, J. (2018). Is there a need for personal gambling licences? Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 2019, 36(2) 108–124. DOI: 10.1177/1455072518811029