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.


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

Simulations for addicts of gambling [open access article]

Blokland, Piet van. (July, 2018). Paper presented at the Tenth International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS10), Kyoto, Japan. Retrieved from

Abstract: Gambling addiction is a serious problem in our societies. The gambling industry is a multi-billion industry with a lot of victims. Treatment for addiction has a high percentage of regression. We think that insight into the statistics involved, will help to strengthen the addicts ability to resist the temptations of gambling. Simulations are an easy way to explain variation and expectation. We describe a series of 3 lessons of 4 hours each about randomness, the gambler’s fallacy, slot machine and roulette to clarify these games in order to give better understanding. Attention is also paid to other aspects of the gambling. We tested these lessons with gamblers and gambling addicts. This approach may also be useful for public education. You can see the simulations at Read full article

Gambling despite financial loss: The role of losses disguised as wins in multiline slots [subscription research report]

Graydon, Candice, Dixon, Mike J., Stange, Madison & Fugelsang, Jonathan A. (2018). Addiction. doi:

Abstract: Background and Aims
Slot machines pose serious problems for a subset of gamblers. On multiline slots, many small credit returns are less than one’s spin wager, resulting in a net loss to the player. These outcomes are called losses disguised as wins (LDWs). We aimed to show that different proportions of LDWs could differentially affect gambling persistence (continuing to gamble despite financial loss), but that such LDW effects may depend on problem gambling symptomatology.

Design: Gamblers were randomized to play 100 spins on a game with few, moderate, or many LDWs (between subjects design), then continued playing for as long as they wished during (unbeknownst to players) a losing streak (to measure gambling persistence).

Setting: A custom built casino in a gambling research lab in Waterloo, Canada.

Participants: Experienced gamblers (N = 132) with varying levels of problem gambling symptomatology from the Waterloo, Canada community.

Measurements: We measured the number of voluntary spins participants played (persistence) during the losing streak following the 100‐spin playing sessions. We measured problem gambling symptomatology using the Problem Gambling Severity Index, and classified them as non‐problem (n = 53), low risk (n = 55), or higher risk (n = 24) gamblers.

Findings: Persistence trends differed depending on LDW frequency and problem‐gambling status (Interaction: p = .037). High‐risk gamblers showed a “sweet spot” for LDW reinforcement, persisting for longer in the moderate than few or many LDW games (Quadratic trend across LDW games: p = .028). Non‐problem gamblers showed a linear trend across LDW games, gambling for longer in the few LDW game (p = .007). The trend for at‐risk gamblers was inconclusive (ps > .31).

Conclusions: Multiline slots contain outcomes in which one loses more than the original wager (losses disguised as wins or LDWs). Moderate (versus few and high) proportions of LDWs appear to make higher risk players gamble for longer despite financial loss. Article details and subscription access

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.

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.

Video Lottery is the Most Harmful Form of Gambling in Canada

This paper summarizes the degree to which different forms of legal gambling contribute to Problem and Pathological Gambling (PPG) in Canada. Legal gambling activities were compared using meta-analysis of publicly available data concerning Canada’s legal gambling industry. The majority of revenues in the decade spanning 2002–2012 were drawn from Video Lottery Terminals and casino slot machines. Population surveys indicated that three quarters of Canadians reported some form of past-year gambling participation, but most did not play Electronic Gambling Machines…

MacLaren, V. V. (2015). Video Lottery is the Most Harmful Form of Gambling in Canada. Journal of Gambling Studies, 1–27.