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

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Understanding the business versus care paradox in gambling venues: a qualitative study of the perspectives from gamblers, venue staff and counsellors [open access article]

Riley, B., Orlowski, S., Smith, D., Baigent, M., Battersby, M., & Lawn, S. (2018). Harm Reduction Journal 15(49). doi https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-018-0256-4

Background: In recent years, greater emphasis has been placed on gambling venues to identify potential problem gamblers, respond appropriately and refer to treatment. In seeking the perspectives of problem gamblers, venue staff and treatment providers, this qualitative study investigates how problem gamblers experience being identified and referred for treatment by venue staff.

Results: ‘Role conflict’ was identified as a considerable source of stress for venue staff who described conflicting priorities in responding to problem gamblers whilst maintaining employer profit margins. Problem gamblers described offers of help from venue staff as hypocritical and disingenuous. Venue staff also described reluctance to make moral judgements through the identification of and engagement with problem gamblers, and gamblers described resentment in being singled out and targeted as a problem gambler. Being approached and offered referral to a counselling service was a rare occurrence among problem gamblers. This corresponded with reports by gambling counsellors.

Conclusions: Role conflict experienced by gambling venue staff and patrons alike inhibits effective referral of potential problem gamblers into treatment. Reducing the need for gambling venue staff to make a perceived moral judgement about the gambling behaviours of specific patrons may improve the reception of responsible gambling information and promote help-seeking. Access full article

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.

The Utilisation of Music by Casino Managers: An Interview Study

Music is ubiquitous in retail and commercial environments, with some managers believing that music can enhance the customer experience, increase footfall and sales and improve consumer satisfaction. Casino gambling is popular in the United Kingdom and anecdotal evidence suggests that music is often present. However, little is known about the rationale for music use from the perspective of casino managers. In this study semi-structured interviews were conducted with five casino managers to establish their motivations for utilising music, the factors informing their choice of music and the extent to which music is used with the intention of influencing gambling behaviour. Results showed that casino managers utilised two types of music—recorded background music, often sourced via external music supply companies and live music. Live music was often situated away from the gaming floor and used primarily to accompany participation in non-gambling activities. Recorded background music was not used with the direct aim of influencing customers’ gambling behaviour, but to create the right atmosphere for gambling and to promote certain moods within the casinos. To achieve these aims casino managers manipulated the tempo, volume and genre of the recorded background music. Casino managers also reported that some gamblers listen to music via portable music players, possibly with the intention of customising their gambling experience. This study is unique as it has provided a first-hand account of casino managers’ implicit theories with regards to why they utilise music and the roles which music is considered to fulfil in casinos.

Gambling advocacy: lessons from tobacco, alcohol and junk food

Abstract:

Objective: To explore the attitudes and opinions of public health experts in gambling and related unhealthy commodity industries towards the tactics used by the gambling industry to prevent reform and the advocacy responses to these tactics. Methods: In-depth interviews (30–60 minutes) with a convenience sample of 15 public health experts and stakeholders with a public health approach to gambling (n=10), or other unhealthy commodity industries (food, alcohol, tobacco, n=5)…

Thomas, S. L., David, J., Randle, M., Daube, M., & Senior, K. (2015). Gambling advocacy: lessons from tobacco, alcohol and junk food. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, n/a–n/a. http://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12410