Publications by authors named "Matthew Rockloff"

60 Publications

The identification of Australian low-risk gambling limits: A comparison of gambling-related harm measures.

J Behav Addict 2021 Mar 31. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

5The Social Research Centre, Australian National University, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.

Background And Aims: Problem gambling severity and gambling-related harm are closely coupled, but conceptually distinct, constructs. The primary aim was to compare low-risk gambling limits when gambling-related harm was defined using the negative consequence items of the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI-Harm) and the Short Gambling Harms Scale items (SGHS-Harm). A secondary aim was compare low-risk limits derived using a definition of harm in which at least two harms across different domains (e.g. financial and relationship) were endorsed with a definition of harm in which at least two harms from any domain were endorsed.

Methods: Data were collected from dual-frame computer-assisted telephone interviews of 5,000 respondents in the fourth Social and Economic Impact Study (SEIS) of Gambling in Tasmania. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyse were conducted to identify low-risk gambling limits.

Results: PGSI-Harm and SGHS-Harm definitions produced similar overall limits: 30-37 times per year; AUD$510-$544 per year; expenditure comprising no more than 10.2-10.3% of gross personal income; 400-454 minutes per year; and 2 types of gambling activities per year. Acceptable limits (AUC ≥0.70) were identified for horse/dog racing, keno, and sports/other betting using the PGSI definition; and electronic gaming machines, keno, and bingo using the SGHS definition. The requirement that gamblers endorse two or more harms across different domains had a relatively negligible effect.

Discussion And Conclusions: Although replications using alternative measures of harm are required, previous PGSI-based limits appear to be robust thresholds that have considerable potential utility in the prevention of gambling-related harm.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/2006.2021.00012DOI Listing
March 2021

Young people who purchase loot boxes are more likely to have gambling problems: An online survey of adolescents and young adults living in NSW Australia.

J Behav Addict 2021 Feb 24. Epub 2021 Feb 24.

1Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Bundaberg, QLD, Australia.

Background And Aims: Loot boxes are a common feature in video games where players win, buy or are gifted a virtual box or other container that is unwrapped to reveal virtual items of value, such as skins, weapons, in-game currency or special abilities. The current study aimed to relate the use of loot boxes to gambling problems and harm.

Methods: An online survey was conducted with 1,954 adolescents and young adults from NSW Australia, 59.9% female (aged 12-24), recruited by online panel aggregator, Qualtrics.

Results: Buying and selling loot boxes was associated with higher 12-month gambling frequency and gambling problems in young adults, aged 18-24 (Problem Gambling Severity Index). Young adults who bought loot boxes additionally had more gambling-related harms (Short Gambling Harms Screen). Young women, aged 18-24, who opened, bought and/or sold loot boxes spent more money in the last 12 months on gambling. In adolescents, aged 12-17, buying loot boxes was similarly associated with gambling problems (DSM-IV-MR-J). Furthermore, adolescent girls who bought and/or sold loot boxes viewed gambling more positively than other girls (Attitudes Towards Gambling Scale). There was no evidence, however, that longer-term experience in opening or purchasing loot boxes, a differentiating feature of the survey, is associated with current gambling problems.

Discussion And Conclusions: This study suggests that loot boxes may be attractive to people who are already predisposed to engage in other gambling, and females who use loot boxes may have unique vulnerabilities to gambling problems that could be explored in future research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/2006.2021.00007DOI Listing
February 2021

Opportunity Costs or Not? Validating the Short Gambling Harm Screen against a Set of "Unimpeachable" Negative Impacts.

J Clin Med 2021 Feb 2;10(3). Epub 2021 Feb 2.

School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton 4701, Australia.

Assessing the harmful consequences of gambling is an area of active investigation. One measure intended to capture gambling-related harm is the 10-item short gambling harm screen (SGHS). Although good psychometric properties have been reported, it has been suggested that the screen's less severe probes may not represent genuinely harmful consequences, but rather may reflect rational opportunity costs. Consequently, it has been argued that the screen may lead to overestimation of the extent of gambling-related harm in the population. The current study sought to examine the psychometric performance of three less severe suspect items in the SGHS. Associations between each of these items and a specially constructed scale of relatively severe "unimpeachable" gambling harms were calculated from archival data from 5551 Australian and New Zealand gamblers. All three suspect items, both individually and upon aggregation, predicted greater endorsement of "unimpeachable" harms, and indicated the presence of gambling problems. Moreover, the SGHS as a whole is highly correlated with "unimpeachable" gambling harms. Including suspect items in the SGHS was found to improve predictions of low- and moderate-risk gambling status, but slightly decreased predictions of severe gambling problems. The results are inconsistent with the notion that SGHS harm probes capture either inconsequential consequences or opportunity costs. They confirm prior findings that harm symptomatology is unidimensional, and that the report of multiple more prevalent, but less severe, harms serves as an effective indicator of the spectrum of experienced harm.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm10030549DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7867326PMC
February 2021

The Relationship Between Family Gambling Problems, Other Family Stressors, and Health Indicators in a Large Population-Representative Sample of Australian Adults.

J Gambl Stud 2020 Nov 27. Epub 2020 Nov 27.

School of Medical, Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, QLD, Australia.

Purpose: Harms due to excessive gambling can be experienced by gamblers and those close to them. Family gambling problems (FGPs) are currently under-researched, particularly in population-representative samples. This study aimed to identify prevalence, risk factors, and the complex of stressors and health-related consequences associated with FGPs, as well as isolating the impact of FGPs on physical and psychological health problems.

Methods: We analysed data from the National Health Survey 2011-13, a large (N = 15,475) nationally representative sample of Australian adults. Participants reported on the presence of 14 family stressors (including FGPs), self-assessed health status, and risky health behaviours. Psychological impact was measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale-10, as well as several indicators of the presence of mental health problems.

Results: Overall, 1.7% of households reported a FGP. Interviewees in these households reported three times the number of other stressors than those without a FGP. In addition, they were around eight times more likely to be experiencing other addictions (drug and alcohol related problems) and stressors associated with socially deviant behaviours (trouble with police, abuse or violent crime, and witness to violence). Once age, gender, socioeconomic disadvantage, and other stressors were controlled for, FGPs significantly predicted lower self-assessed health and higher psychological distress.

Conclusions: FGPs occur within a complex of other addictions and stressors, impacting the quality of life of people close to problem gambling. The findings are discussed in relation to their support for General Strain Theory (Agnew, Criminology 30:47-87, 1992).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-020-09990-xDOI Listing
November 2020

A framework for indirect elicitation of the public health impact of gambling problems.

BMC Public Health 2020 Nov 16;20(1):1717. Epub 2020 Nov 16.

School of Health, Medical & Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, University Dr, Branyan QLD, Bundaberg, 4670, Australia.

Gambling problems are increasingly understood as a health-related condition, with harms from excessive time and money expenditure contributing to significant population morbidity. In many countries, the prevalence of gambling problems is known with some precision. However, the true severity of gambling problems in terms of their impact on health and wellbeing is the subject of ongoing debate. We firstly review recent research that has attempted to estimate harm from gambling, including studies that estimate disability weights using direct elicitation. Limitations of prior approaches are discussed, most notably potential inflation due to non-independent comorbidity with other substance use and mental health conditions, and potential biases in the subjective attribution of morbidity to gambling. An alternative indirect elicitation approach is outlined, and a conceptual framework for its application to gambling is provided. Significant risk factors for propensity to develop gambling problems are enumerated, and relative risks for comorbidities are calculated from recent meta-analyses and reviews. Indirect elicitation provides a promising alternative framework for assessing the causal link between gambling problems and morbidity. This approach requires implementation of propensity score matching to estimate the counterfactual, and demands high quality information of risk factors and comorbid conditions, in order to estimate the unique contribution of gambling problems. Gambling harm is best understood as a decrement to health utility. However, achieving consensus on the severity of gambling problems requires triangulation of results from multiple methodologies. Indirect elicitation with propensity score matching and accounting for comorbidities would provide an important step towards full integration of gambling within a public health paradigm.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09813-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670710PMC
November 2020

Training gamblers to re-think their gambling choices: How contextual analytical thinking may be useful in promoting safer gambling.

J Behav Addict 2020 Oct 3;9(3):766-784. Epub 2020 Oct 3.

3Brain and Mind Centre, School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, M02F Mallett Street Campus, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia.

Background And Aims: Harmful gambling has been associated with the endorsement of fallacious cognitions that promote excessive consumption. These types of beliefs stem from intuitively derived assumptions about gambling that are fostered by fast-thinking and a lack of objective, critical thought. The current paper details an experiment designed to test whether a four-week online intervention to strengthen contextual analytical thinking in gamblers is effective in changing gamblers cognitions and encouraging safer gambling consumption.

Methods: Ninety-four regular gamblers who reported experiencing gambling-related harm were randomly allocated to either an experimental (n = 46) or control condition (n = 48), including 45 males, ranging from 19 to 65 years of age (M = 36.61; SD = 9.76). Following baseline measurement of gambling beliefs and prior week gambling consumption, participants in the experimental condition were required to complete an adaption of the Gamblers Fallacy Questionnaire designed to promote analytical thinking by educating participants on common judgement errors specific to gambling once a week for four weeks. Post-intervention measures of beliefs and gambling consumption were captured in week five.

Results: The experimental condition reported significantly fewer erroneous cognitions, greater endorsement of protective cognitions, and reduced time spent gambling post-intervention compared to baseline. The control group also reported a reduction in cognitions relating to predicting and controlling gambling outcomes.

Conclusion: Cognitive interventions that encourage gamblers to challenge gambling beliefs by reflecting on gambling involvement and promoting critical thinking may be an effective tool for reducing the time people invest in gambling activities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/2006.2020.00049DOI Listing
October 2020

The prevention paradox applies to some but not all gambling harms: Results from a Finnish population-representative survey.

J Behav Addict 2020 Jun 7;9(2):371-382. Epub 2020 Jul 7.

3Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Department of Public Health Solutions, Helsinki, Finland.

Background And Aims: The Prevention Paradox (PP) suggests that a large proportion of aggregate harm from gambling occurs to people who do not have a gambling disorder. However, it has not yet been tested using a population-representative sample. We aimed to test whether the PP applies to gambling in Finland. The prevalence rates of diverse harmful consequences from gambling were surveyed amongst a population-representative sample of past-year gamblers.

Methods: The study used first wave data (N = 7,186) of Finnish Gambling Harms survey, collected via online and postal surveys in 2017. A subset of 3,795 adults (≥18 years), who had gambled at least monthly in 2016, were selected for analysis.

Measurements: Gambling-related harms were evaluated with the 72-item Harms Checklist. Problem and Pathological Gambling Measure (PPGM) measured respondents' probable disordered gambling from the subset of items for impaired control (4 questions) and other issues (3 questions).

Findings: Consistent with previous findings, the majority of harms were reported by those in the less severe PPGM categories (i.e. scoring <5). However, considering each domain separately, this was true only for financial, emotional/psychological, and work/study harms. The PP was not supported for health, relationship, or social deviance harms.

Conclusions: The population prevalence of the most serious harms (e.g. unsafe living conditions) is concentrated among those with severe impaired control issues. However, even excluding the ∼15% of harms occurring to occasional gamblers, most financial, emotional and work/study impacts occur to those with lower levels of control issues. Efforts at harm reduction should focus on the entire spectrum of issues that people experience from their gambling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/2006.2020.00018DOI Listing
June 2020

Beliefs About Gambling Mediate the Effect of Cognitive Style on Gambling Problems.

J Gambl Stud 2020 Sep;36(3):871-886

Brain and Mind Centre, School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, M02F Mallett Street Campus, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia.

Problem gambling is often accompanied by a range of irrational cognitions that promote excessive gambling. The cognitive basis for these beliefs has been largely overlooked in the gambling literature. Dual process theory suggests there are two parallel cognitive processing systems, an intuitive and an analytic system, and that there are potential individual differences in preference for one or the other cognitive style. The current study explored whether people's cognitive styles are an important factor in the development of specific beliefs about gambling that in-turn contribute to gambling problems. The sample consisted of 1168 regular gamblers (539 female, ranging from 18 to 78 years of age; M = 35.47, SD = 10.78) recruited via Mechanical Turk. Participants completed a survey assessing cognitive style, problem gambling severity, and measures of protective and erroneous beliefs. In a path model, greater analytical thinking and lower intuitive thinking was associated with fewer erroneous gambling beliefs, which in turn were related to fewer gambling problems. A second model showed that protective beliefs also mediated the relationship between cognitive style and gambling, demonstrating that greater analytical thinking and lower intuitive thinking was associated with protective beliefs that similarly reduced problem gambling severity. Results suggest that a person's cognitive style influences peoples gambling by contributing to the endorsement of irrational or unsafe beliefs about gambling. Encouraging people to think more analytically may be useful in reducing erroneous beliefs about gambling that promote problematic gambling behaviour.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-020-09942-5DOI Listing
September 2020

Gamble with Your Head and Not Your Heart: A Conceptual Model for How Thinking-Style Promotes Irrational Gambling Beliefs.

J Gambl Stud 2020 Mar;36(1):183-206

School of Human, Medical, and Applied Sciences, CQUniversity, University Drive, Bundaberg, QLD, 4670, Australia.

Dual process theory suggests that people use two processing systems to filter information and form judgments that direct a course of action: an intuitive and an analytic system. While the intuitive system is necessary for efficient and effective daily functioning, reliance on fast, intuitive thinking when gambling is likely to result in biased or flawed decision-making. Those who gamble tend to endorse an array of fallacious or irrational beliefs that contribute to risky decision-making and excessive gambling. This paper argues that gambling beliefs may be developed and reinforced through underlying cognitive mechanisms described by dual process theory. More specifically, gamblers tend to apply assumptions and theories developed based on their understanding of the natural world to artificial gambling contexts where such rules do not apply. As a result, gamblers develop biased interpretations and understandings for how gambling works, which tend to align with personal schemas, experiences and gambling motivations. These beliefs are used in future gambling contexts to inform decision-making. Gamblers are often unlikely or unwilling to reflect on the veracity of beliefs as they are often used to justify gambling behaviours. Educating gamblers on how they make decisions and encouraging them to think more analytically may help to reduce the strength with which erroneous beliefs about gambling are endorsed, resulting in safer gambling decisions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09927-zDOI Listing
March 2020

Free-Spins Spur Gamblers to Quit EGMs Early: An Online EGM Study.

J Gambl Stud 2020 Jun;36(2):435-443

University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.

Free-spins on slot machines introduce a salient moment of potentially large wins that might influence people to either quit or continue a gambling session. Two theoretical models make different predictions about why people quit a gambling session. From a behaviourist perspective, people quit a session when they are either satiated or the lack of rewards lead to the extinction of behaviour. Alternatively, from a behavioural-finance perspective, people quit due to the disposition effect: a general finding whereby investors tend to sell shares or other assets when the price has increased, but keep assets that have dropped in value. From the behaviourist perspective, we predict that people experience free spins as a moment of intermittent reinforcement, which should encourage them to continue gambling longer. According to the disposition effect, however, the large win would trigger risk-aversion, signalling an opportunity to "cash out" and lock-in the gain. In the present study, 188 gamblers (72 female) were randomly allocated to one of three conditions: control, early free-spins and late free-spins, in an online EGM simulation (points only). Consistent with the disposition effect, participants who received early free-spins quit earlier, placing significantly fewer bets, than those in control condition. The study suggests that free-spins, rather than being reinforcing within session, may signal an opportunity to quit early. In the discussion, however, we speculate on whether future research could demonstrate that a perceived lack of free spins in a session may keep players engaged longer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09925-1DOI Listing
June 2020

Measuring Behavioural Dependence in Gambling: A Case for Removing Harmful Consequences from the Assessment of Problem Gambling Pathology.

J Gambl Stud 2020 Dec;36(4):1027-1044

School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Bundaberg Campus, B8 G.47 University Drive, Branyan, QLD, 4670, Australia.

Behavioural dependence (BD) for gambling has traditionally been subsumed under the concept of 'problems': a hybrid construct that includes both indicators of BD, and adverse consequences (harm) arising from excessive time and money expenditure. Although progress has been made towards specific measurement of harm, dedicated measures of BD do not exist. Theory led us to expect that (1) dependence and harm are measurably distinct constructs, (2) harm mediates the relationship between dependence and wellbeing, and finally, that (3) separate measures should be more effective than a unidimensional problems measure in predicting wellbeing. Candidate BD items from six existing measures of gambling problems were extracted and evaluated with respect to DSM-5 criteria and content overlap, leading to 17 candidate items. This was further reduced to 8 items based on both item content and psychometric criteria, using data from an online panel of 1524 regular gamblers, with demographic characteristics similar to Australian population norms. Participants also completed measures of harm, problems, and subjective wellbeing. All three hypotheses were confirmed. BD was shown to be highly reliable and unidimensional, and measurably distinct from gambling harms. Harm mediated the negative relationship between BD and wellbeing. The harm + BD model yielded better predictions of personal wellbeing that a unidimensional, continuous problems measure-and explained about twice the variance of a simple contrast between problem and non-problem gamblers. We conclude that is psychometrically justified to specifically measure gambling BD, and this may be of particular use in theoretically-driven applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09916-2DOI Listing
December 2020

Encouraging Gamblers to Think Critically Using Generalised Analytical Priming is Ineffective at Reducing Gambling Biases.

J Gambl Stud 2020 Sep;36(3):851-869

School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, M02F Mallett Street Campus, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia.

Gambling has been associated with an array of fallacious beliefs that foster risky gambling decisions. Research into other belief systems suggests that the endorsement of non-evidence based beliefs, such as the paranormal or conspiracy theories, can be reduced when people think more analytically. The purpose of this study was to explore whether an intervention designed to elicit analytical thinking was effective in altering the gambling beliefs and simulated gambling behaviour of 178 regular electronic gaming machine (EGM) gamblers (102 males, 76 female). Participants were randomly allocated to complete either an analytic or a neutral priming task, followed by completion of belief measures (erroneous and protective) and play on a simulated EGM game. Results failed to show that priming for analytical thinking changed betting on an EGM; including features of bet size, bet change, persistence and theoretical losses. Contrary to expectations, results suggest that priming analytical thinking using generalised interventions does not appear to be effective in altering peoples' simulated gambling involvement or gambling beliefs. In fact, priming people to think more critically might be counterproductive by contributing to greater positive expectations about gambling outcomes. The results further suggested that the number of times a player alters their bet is a good indicator of theoretical gambling losses and is associated with irrational gambling cognitions. Interventions designed to promote safer thinking in gamblers should be implemented with care, as results from our study suggest that encouraging critical thinking in at-risk or problem gamblers may not be effective in reducing risky gambling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09910-8DOI Listing
September 2020

Avoiding gambling harm: An evidence-based set of safe gambling practices for consumers.

PLoS One 2019 17;14(10):e0224083. Epub 2019 Oct 17.

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Prior studies have identified self-regulatory strategies that are infrequently used by problem-gamblers, but which might be protective if used. However, guidelines with evidence-based safe gambling practices (SGPs) that prevent gambling-related harm are lacking. This study aimed to: 1) identify a parsimonious set of evidence-based SGPs that best predict non-harmful gambling amongst gamblers who are otherwise most susceptible to experiencing gambling harm; 2) examine how widely are they used; and 3) assess whether their use differs by gambler characteristics. A sample of 1,174 regular gamblers in Alberta Canada completed an online survey measuring uptake of 43 potential SGPs, gambling harms and numerous risk factors for harmful gambling. Elastic net regression identified a sub-sample of 577 gamblers most susceptible to gambling harm and therefore most likely to benefit from the uptake of SGPs. A second elastic net predicted gambling harm scores in the sub-sample, using the SGPs as candidate predictors. Nine SGPs best predicted non-harmful gambling amongst this sub-sample. The behaviour most strongly associated with increased harm was using credit to gamble. The behaviour most strongly associated with reduced harm was 'If I'm not having fun gambling, I stop'. These SGPs form the basis of evidence-based safe gambling guidelines which can be: 1) promoted to consumers, 2) form the basis of self-assessment tests, 3) used to measure safe gambling at a population level, and 4) inform supportive changes to policy and practice. The guidelines advise gamblers to: stop if they are not having fun, keep a household budget, keep a dedicated gambling budget, have a fixed amount they can spend, engage in other leisure activities, avoid gambling when upset or depressed, not use credit for gambling, avoid gambling to make money, and not think that strategies can help you win. These guidelines are a promising initiative to help reduce gambling-related harm.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0224083PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6797237PMC
March 2020

Structural or dispositional? An experimental investigation of the experience of winning in social casino games (and impulsivity) on subsequent gambling behaviors.

J Behav Addict 2019 Sep 23;8(3):479-488. Epub 2019 Sep 23.

Department of Psychology,University of Calgary, Calgary,Canada.

Background And Aims: In the present research, we experimentally investigated whether the experience of winning (i.e., inflated payout rates) in a social casino game influenced social casino gamers' subsequent decision to gamble for money. Furthermore, we assessed whether facets of dispositional impulsivity - negative and positive urgency in particular - also influenced participants' subsequent gambling.

Methods: Social casino gamers who were also current gamblers ( = 318) were asked to play a social casino game to assess their perceptions of the game in exchange for $3. Unbeknownst to them, players were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions: winning ( = 110), break-even ( = 103), or losing ( = 105). After playing, participants were offered a chance to gamble their $3 renumeration in an online roulette game.

Results: A total of 280 participants (88.1%) elected to gamble, but no between-condition variation in the decision to gamble emerged. Furthermore, there were no differences in gambling on the online roulette between condition. However, higher levels of both negative and positive urgency increased the likelihood of gambling. Finally, impulsivity did not moderate the relationship between experience of winning and decision to gamble.

Conclusion: The results suggest that dispositional factors, including impulsive urgency, are implicated in the choice to gamble for social casino gamers following play.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/2006.8.2019.48DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7044615PMC
September 2019

Mobile EGM Games: Evidence That Simulated Games Encourage Real-Money Gambling.

J Gambl Stud 2020 Dec;36(4):1253-1265

Central Queensland University, Adelaide, Australia.

Electronic gaming machines (EGMs) and other gambling-themed simulators are a popular sub-genre of video-games or "apps" played on mobile devices (King et al. in Comput Hum Behav 31(Supplement C):305-313, 2014). Qualitative evidence suggests that some people use gambling-themed simulators in an attempt to limit their real-money expenditure (Thorne et al. in J Gambl Issues 34:221-243, 2016), although playing such games might also encourage gambling due to anticipated enjoyment or profit. To test the potential relationship between use of simulated mobile gambling products and real-money gambling, a study was devised to explore current and retrospective accounts, as well as a prospective trial of how weekly play on EGM simulators might influence subsequent gambling. A total of 736 EGM gamblers (421 male) completed an initial scoping survey on their current and retrospective use of simulated and real-money gambling products. By invitation, 556 people (314 male) from the initial survey also volunteered in a 24 weeks follow-up study where approximately half (48.2%) were randomly assigned to play a simulated game, "Lucky Lolly Slots", for at least 5 min each week. Simulated gambling sessions were recorded for both Lucky Lolly Slots and any other gambling apps played by the participants. Results showed that people who had played gambling-themed EGM apps at some point in their lifetime had a higher frequency of play on real-money EGMs and were more likely to admit to current gambling problems. In addition, those people who played a simulated EGM app prior to age 13 nominated an earlier age at which they "gambled the most" in adolescence. In the 24 weeks trial, people's app play (number of sessions) in 1 week reliably predicted increases in real-money gambling the following week. We found no evidence that people who were trying to reduce their expenditure were contrarily influenced to gamble less as a result of their app play, with their app-sessions similarly being related to increases in expenditure. The present results suggest that gamblers who play simulated games are likely to be influenced to gamble more on real-money forms of gambling as a result of their use. The study raises particular concerns about the widespread availability and popularity of such gambling-themed simulators amongst children and adolescents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09869-6DOI Listing
December 2020

The privilege paradox: Geographic areas with highest socio-economic advantage have the lowest rates of vaccination.

Vaccine 2019 07 28;37(32):4525-4532. Epub 2019 Jun 28.

School of Human, Health & Social Sciences, Central Queensland University, University Dr, Branyan, QLD 4670, Australia.

The present study is the first to examine associations between area-level socio-demographic factors and uptake of vaccination among 5-year old children throughout Australia. A public-health focused ecological methodology was used that combined postcode-level socio-demographic variables from the 2016 Census with postcode-level vaccination data. Analyses included one-way analysis of variance and assessment of linear trends for each socio-demographic variable across five categories of vaccination rate; ranging from lowest (≤90%) to highest (96.1-100%), as well as using vaccination rate as a continuous variable. Multiple regression analysis was also conducted using select indicators to predict vaccination rates in postcodes from major cities. The results of the univariate analyses showed that communities with lower rates of vaccination had relatively less disadvantage, and had relatively greater education and occupation status, as measured by SEIFA (ABS [4]). When we looked at the ASGS Remoteness Areas, we saw that the vaccination rates were lowest in postcodes from the major cities of Australia, and vaccination rates increased as communities became more remote. When the community is further refined to postcodes located in the major cities, and to the target group of parents/partners in a family with children aged 4-7, we found that postcodes with lower vaccination rates were characterised as having a relatively greater proportion of people with: a high education level (bachelor degree level or higher); having white-collar jobs as managers; having no religion, having people in the older age category (50-54); and conversely being unemployed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.06.060DOI Listing
July 2019

Contrasting Effects of Gambling Consumption and Gambling Problems on Subjective Wellbeing.

J Gambl Stud 2019 Sep;35(3):773-792

School of Medical, Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, B8 G.47 University Drive, Bundaberg, QLD, 4670, Australia.

Most research on gambling focuses on the negative consequences associated with excessive consumption, which implicitly leads to a reduction in health and wellbeing. However, few studies have measured subjective wellbeing with respect to gambling involvement, and almost none has attempted to distinguish the separate effects of consumption and problems. We used the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) in two surveys with different recruitment criteria. Study 1 (N = 1524, 50.6% female) was designed to compare differences in personal wellbeing among gamblers, and Study 2 (N = 1586, 70.2% female) compared wellbeing between gamblers and non-gamblers. Participants provided demographic information, and answered questions allowing them to be grouped into high/low levels of consumption, and problem gambling risk categories. After accounting for gambling problems, higher consumption was associated with higher wellbeing. Study 2 showed consistent results; revealing that both high and low consumption non-problem gamblers (NPGs) had higher personal wellbeing than non-gamblers. Nevertheless, the deleterious effect of gambling problems on wellbeing was larger than the effect of consumption. After accounting for population prevalence (i.e., per capita), only 15.3% of the negative influence of gambling problems on PWI was attributable to problem gamblers; the remainder associated with lower risk categories. Although results were consistent when controlling for demographic covariates, the positive link between consumption and wellbeing may be due to unmeasured variables such as personality traits, health, and socioeconomic status. Nevertheless, the assessment of subjective wellbeing provides a unique perspective on both the positive and negative effects of gambling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09862-zDOI Listing
September 2019

Sports betting incentives encourage gamblers to select the long odds: An experimental investigation using monetary rewards.

J Behav Addict 2019 Jun 7;8(2):268-276. Epub 2019 Jun 7.

Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences,CQUniversity, Melbourne, VIC,Australia.

Background And Aims: Incentives for wagering products can provide extra value to gamblers. However, there is no financial reason why this added value should lead people to take greater gambling risks. This study aimed to experimentally test if wagering incentives cause gamblers to choose higher-risk (long odds) bets than un-incentivized bets.

Methods: An online experiment was conducted with wagering customers ( = 299, female = 12). Participants bet $4 on each of six video game simulations of a sport that they had wagered on in the past 12 months (Australian Football League, Cricket, or Soccer). Each game offered different common wagering incentives: Bonus bet, Better odds/winnings, Reduced risk, Cash rebate, Player's choice of inducement, or No-inducement. For each game, participants could bet on long, medium, or short odds, and subsequently viewed a highlight reel of the simulated game outcome and bet outcome.

Results: Participants selected significantly longer odds (i.e., riskier) bets on games when an incentive was offered compared to the No-inducement condition. Better odds/winnings was the most attractive incentive, followed by Bonus bet, Cash rebate, Reduced risk, and No-incentive, respectively. No significant differences were observed based on demographics or problem gambling severity.

Discussion And Conclusions: The choice of long odds with incentivized bets increases the volatility of player returns. Increased volatility results in more gamblers in a losing position and fewer gamblers with larger wins. Moreover, if long odds bets are priced to provide poorer value to bettors compared to short odds, they would increase gamblers' losses and equivalently increase operators' profits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/2006.8.2019.30DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7044548PMC
June 2019

A Quantification of the Net Consumer Surplus from Gambling Participation.

J Gambl Stud 2019 Dec;35(4):1147-1162

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Gambling exposes people to risk for harm, but also has recreational benefits. The present study aimed to measure gambling harm and gambling benefits on similar scales using two novel methods adapted from the Burden of Disease approach (McCormack et al. in Psychol Med 18(4):1007-1019, 1988; Torrance et al. in Health Serv Res 7(2):118-133, 1972) to find whether gambling either adds or subtracts from quality of life. A Tasmanian population-representative survey of 5000 adults (2534 female) from random digit dialling (RDD) of landline telephones in Tasmania (50%), as well as pre-screened Tasmanian RDD mobiles (17%) and listed mobile numbers (33%), measured gambling benefits and harms amongst gamblers (59.2%) and a non-exclusive set of people who were "affected" by someone else's gambling (4.5%). The majority of gamblers indicated no change to their quality of life from gambling (82.5% or 72.6% based on direct elicitation or time trade off methods, respectively). Nevertheless, a weighted average of all the positive and negative influences on quality of life, inclusive of gamblers and affected others, revealed that the quality of life change from gambling is either a very modest + 0.05% or a more concerning - 1.9% per capita. Gambling generates only small or negative net consumer surpluses for Tasmanians.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09845-0DOI Listing
December 2019

A Multivariate Evaluation of 25 Proximal and Distal Risk-Factors for Gambling-Related Harm.

J Clin Med 2019 Apr 13;8(4). Epub 2019 Apr 13.

Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2R3, Canada.

Individual differences in the risk of developing gambling-related harm play an important role in theoretical models and practical interventions. The present study attempted comprehensive measurement and evaluation of 25 known risk factors for gambling-related harm in order to determine which factors provided large and unique explanatory power. We surveyed 1650 regular gamblers from an online panel, screening in 1174 (466 male) who passed all checks of attention and response consistency. We evaluated each risk factor based on bivariate correlations with harms, then made separate multivariate evaluations of proximal (e.g., gambling motivations) and distal (e.g., religiosity) risk factors. Almost all bivariate correlations were significant, but most distal factors were not significant in multivariate models. Trait impulsivity was the most important risk factor by a large margin. Excessive consumption, less use of safe gambling practices, and more fallacies were key proximal risks of harm. Many well-known correlates of gambling harm (e.g., youth, lower educational attainment) do not show a direct role in the development of gambling harm when controlling for other factors. The results support theoretical models that emphasise early conditioning and biological vulnerability (manifested through impulsivity). Since maladaptive cognitive and behavioural schemas appear to be more important than motivations (e.g., escape, excitement, ego), interventions may benefit by targeting these proximal drivers of harm.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm8040509DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6518151PMC
April 2019

Til Debt Do Us Part: Comparing Gambling Harms Between Gamblers and Their Spouses.

J Gambl Stud 2019 Sep;35(3):1015-1034

School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, CQUniversity, Bundaberg, QLD, Australia.

This study compared the experience of gambling related harms between gamblers and spouses, whilst taking into account gender and problem gambling severity. Participants (N = 5036, 2603 females) from Australia and New Zealand completed a retrospective survey that probed the prevalence of specific harms from gambling within six harm domains (financial, work/study, health, emotional/psychological, relationship, and social deviance). Overall there was a similar count of total harms reported across all domains experienced by spouses (vs gamblers), however the types and patterns of harms reported were markedly different. Spouses reported the highest number of harms within the emotional/psychological and relationship domains, whereas gamblers experienced a higher number of harms in all other domains. Spouses were five to six times more likely to report increased conflict in their relationship due to gambling, greater relationship tension, and ending a relationship. In comparison, gamblers reported more severe health-related harms, such as suicide attempts and increased alcohol consumption. The findings highlight the unique ways in which gamblers and their spouses each respond to the presence of gambling problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09826-3DOI Listing
September 2019

Where's the Bonus in Bonus Bets? Assessing Sports Bettors' Comprehension of their True Cost.

J Gambl Stud 2019 Jun;35(2):587-599

Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, CQUniversity, University Drive, Bundaberg, QLD, 4670, Australia.

Wagering inducements with bonus bets are prominently marketed and often have play-through conditions requiring further expenditure. However, these conditions are not usually presented in the inducement advertisement and may be difficult to locate. The play-through conditions themselves are complex and may lead bettors to miscalculate the inducement's true cost. Therefore, in relation to inducements with bonus bets, this study aimed to assess: (1) whether their perceived attractiveness varies with the amount and type of information provided about their play-through conditions; (2) bettors' comprehension of their true cost; and (3) whether bettors' comprehension of their true cost varies with problem gambling severity. A sample of 299 Australian sports bettors completed an online survey and rated the attractiveness of three variations of an inducement. Promo1 simply noted that "terms and conditions apply"; promo2 included the terms and conditions immediately below the offer; and promo3 revealed the true cost of the offer. Respondents were asked to calculate the true cost before this was revealed. The study found that detailing key terms and conditions for an offer directly below the advertisement impacts negatively on its perceived attractiveness. Moreover, nearly three in five bettors underestimated the additional amount they would need to bet to access any winnings from the bonus bet. No significant differences were found amongst gambler risk groups. The results imply that current approaches to marketing these inducements are likely to lead consumers to overestimate their attractiveness and underestimate their cost. To enhance responsible gambling practice, these promotional offers should be presented in ways that enable informed decision-making.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-018-9800-0DOI Listing
June 2019

Prevalence of gambling-related harm provides evidence for the prevention paradox.

J Behav Addict 2018 Jun 23;7(2):410-422. Epub 2018 May 23.

1 School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University , Branyan, QLD, Australia.

Background The prevention paradox (PP) describes a situation in which a greater number of cases of a disease-state come from low-risk members of a population, because they are more prevalent than high-risk members. Past research has provided only tangential and disputed evidence to support the application of the PP to gambling-related harm. Aims To assess whether the PP applies to gambling, the prevalence of a large set (72) of diverse harmful consequences from gambling was examined across four risk categories for problem gambling, including no-risk, low-risk, moderate-risk, and problem-gambling. Methods Respondents who had gambled on non-lottery forms in the past 6 months completed an online survey (N = 1,524, 49.4% male). The data were weighted to the known prevalence of gambling problems in the Victorian community. Results The prevalence of gambling harms, including severe harms, was generally higher in the combined categories of lower risk categories compared to the high-risk problem-gambling category. There were some notable exceptions, however, for some severe and rare harms. Nevertheless, the majority of harms in the 72-item list, including serious harms such as needing temporary accommodation, emergency welfare assistance, experiencing separation or end of a relationship, loss of a job, needing to sell personal items, and experiencing domestic violence from gambling, were more commonly associated with lower risk gamblers. Conclusion Many significant harms are concentrated outside the ranks of gamblers with a severe mental health condition, which supports a public-health approach to ameliorating gambling-related harm.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/2006.7.2018.41DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174604PMC
June 2018

A tale of two countries: comparing disability weights for gambling problems in New Zealand and Australia.

Qual Life Res 2018 Sep 17;27(9):2361-2371. Epub 2018 May 17.

Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

Purpose: This study aimed to assess the impact of gambling problems on quality of life. Specifically, we generated disability weight estimates for gambling problems in New Zealand, and compared these results with (i) Australian figures (J Gambl Issues, 10.4309/jgi.v0i36.3978, 2017) and (ii) other health states (Lancet, 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61680-8, 2013); such as anxiety and alcohol use disorders.

Method: The 324 participants (48 experts and 276 general population members) evaluated a series of gambling harm vignettes. The participants rated the decrement to one's quality of life using Visual Analogue Scale and Time Trade-Off protocols (Br Med Bull, 10.1093/bmb/ldq033, 2010). These evaluations enabled the calculation of disability weights for three categories of gamblers (low-risk, moderate-risk, and problem gamblers).

Results: Disability weight estimates for low-risk, moderate-risk, and problem gamblers in NZ were consistently higher than the Australian weights: low (0.18 vs. 0.13), moderate (0.37 vs. 0.29), and problem (0.54 vs. 0.44). The quality of life impact for problem gambling in NZ (0.54) was comparable to that experienced in severe alcohol use disorder (0.55) (Lancet, 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61680-8, 2013).

Conclusions: This study represents one of the first attempts to assess gambling-related harm through a public health perspective. The results of this study are informative for policy-making, resource allocation, and service planning. These estimates now allow for the population-level impact of gambling in NZ to be calculated and tracked over time, which is essential for informing harm-minimisation initiatives.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11136-018-1882-8DOI Listing
September 2018

Gambling and Sport: Implicit Association and Explicit Intention Among Underage Youth.

J Gambl Stud 2018 Sep;34(3):739-756

School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, 44 Greenhill Road, Wayville, SA, 5034, Australia.

This study examined whether an implicit association existed between gambling and sport among underage youth in Australia, and whether this implicit association could shape their explicit intention to gamble. A sample of 14-17 year old Australian participants completed two phases of tasks, including an implicit association test based online experiment, and a post-experiment online survey. The results supported the existence of an implicit association between gambling and sport among the participants. This implicit association became stronger when they saw sport-relevant (vs. sport-irrelevant) gambling logos, or gambling-relevant (vs. gambling-irrelevant) sport names. In addition, this implicit association was positively related to the amount of sport viewing, but only among those participants who had more favorable gambling attitudes. Lastly, gambling attitudes and advertising knowledge, rather than the implicit association, turned out to be significant predictors of the explicit intention to gamble.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-018-9756-0DOI Listing
September 2018

Anti-vaccination and pro-CAM attitudes both reflect magical beliefs about health.

Vaccine 2018 02 1;36(9):1227-1234. Epub 2018 Feb 1.

School of Human, Health & Social Sciences, Central Queensland University, University Dr, Branyan, QLD 4670, Australia.

We examined the relationship between complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and vaccination scepticism; and specifically whether a person's more general health-related worldview might explain this relationship. A cross-sectional online survey of adult Australians (N = 2697) included demographic, CAM, and vaccination measures, as well as the holistic and magical health belief scales (HHB, MHB). HHB emphasises links between mind and body health, and the impact of general 'wellness' on specific ailments or resistance to disease, whilst MHB specifically taps ontological confusions and cognitive errors about health. CAM and anti-vaccination were found to be linked primarily at the attitudinal level (r = -0.437). We did not find evidence that this was due to CAM practitioners influencing their clients. Applying a path-analytic approach, we found that individuals' health worldview (HHB and MHB) accounted for a significant proportion (43.1%) of the covariance between CAM and vaccination attitudes. MHB was by far the strongest predictor of both CAM and vaccination attitudes in regressions including demographic predictors. We conclude that vaccination scepticism reflects part of a broader health worldview that discounts scientific knowledge in favour of magical or superstitious thinking. Therefore, persuasive messages reflecting this worldview may be more effective than fact-based campaigns in influencing vaccine sceptics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2017.12.068DOI Listing
February 2018

An Exploration of How Simulated Gambling Games May Promote Gambling with Money.

J Gambl Stud 2018 Dec;34(4):1165-1184

School of Business and Law, CQUniversity, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, QLD, 4701, Australia.

Portable media devices, such as smartphones, have allowed gambling related content to infiltrate into a new market of potential consumers. Simulated gambling products are now readily available through multiple online platforms, and are becoming a popular form of entertainment for many young media users. Despite widespread use of these products, very little is known about how continued exposure to and involvement with simulated gambling may impact on real-money gambling attitudes and behaviours, particularly for young consumers. This paper reviews the literature exploring simulated gambling products and how consumption may promote monetary gambling, as well as fostering pro-gambling attitudes among youth and adolescents. Findings suggest that youth are highly exposed to simulated gambling games, and those who engage with these products are also more likely to be prone to monetary gambling and gambling problems. Virtual currency, in-game events and gambling themed content are also likely to promote biases about gambling or desensitise consumers to monetary losses. Simulated gambling products may therefore pose a risk to consumers, and particularly young consumers, rather than serve as a benign substitute for monetary gambling. To date, research has largely focused on correlational relationships between simulated and monetary gambling using cross-sectional methodologies. Future research should focus on determining the causal pathway between simulated gambling involvement and monetary gambling in order to identify and manage any risk associated simulated gambling participation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-018-9742-6DOI Listing
December 2018

The dangers of conflating gambling-related harm with disordered gambling.

J Behav Addict 2017 09 11;6(3):317-320. Epub 2017 Sep 11.

1 School of Health, Medical, and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University , Branyan, QLD, Australia.

In their critical review of the prevention paradox (PP) applied to gambling-related harm, Delfabbro and King (2017) raise a number of concerns regarding specific assumptions, methods, and findings as well as the general conceptual approach. Besides discussing the PP, the review also considers the merits of considering a "continuum of harm," as opposed to the more traditional categorical approach to classifying problem gamblers. Their critique is carefully modulated and balanced, and starts a useful dialogue in the context of a public health approach to gambling. Unfortunately, some of Delfabbro and King's (2017) arguments rest on the treatment of gambling harm as a binary state and conflates gambling-related harm with disordered gambling. In this reply, we argue that the application of PP logic to gambling harm has not yet been addressed by us, and is only indirectly related to the more important objective of understanding how gambling can reduce ones' quality of life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/2006.6.2017.059DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5700733PMC
September 2017

Validation of the Short Gambling Harm Screen (SGHS): A Tool for Assessment of Harms from Gambling.

J Gambl Stud 2018 Jun;34(2):499-512

School of Human Health and Social Sciences, Central Queensland University, B8 G.47 University Dr Branyan, Bundaberg, QLD, 4670, Australia.

It is common for jurisdictions tasked with minimising gambling-related harm to conduct problem gambling prevalence studies for the purpose of monitoring the impact of gambling on the community. However, given that both public health theory and empirical findings suggest that harms can occur without individuals satisfying clinical criteria of addiction, there is a recognized conceptual disconnect between the prevalence of clinical problem gamblers, and aggregate harm to the community. Starting with an initial item pool of 72 specific harms caused by problematic gambling, our aim was to develop a short gambling harms scale (SGHS) to screen for the presence and degree of harm caused by gambling. An Internet panel of 1524 individuals who had gambled in the last year completed a 72-item checklist, along with the Personal Wellbeing Index, the PGSI, and other measures. We selected 10 items for the SGHS, with the goals of maximising sensitivity and construct coverage. Psychometric analysis suggests very strong reliability, homogeneity and unidimensionality. Non-zero responses on the SGHS were associated with a large decrease in personal wellbeing, with wellbeing decreasing linearly with the number of harms indicated. We conclude that weighted SGHS scores can be aggregated at the population level to yield a sensitive and valid measure of gambling harm.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-017-9698-yDOI Listing
June 2018

Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM) Environments: Market Segments and Risk.

J Gambl Stud 2017 Dec;33(4):1139-1152

Central Queensland University, University Drive (Off Isis Hwy), Bundaberg, QLD, 4670, Australia.

This study used a marketing-research paradigm to explore gamblers' attraction to EGMs based on different elements of the environment. A select set of environmental features was sourced from a prior study (Thorne et al. in J Gambl Issues 2016b), and a discrete choice experiment was conducted through an online survey. Using the same dataset first described by Rockloff et al. (EGM Environments that contribute to excess consumption and harm, 2015), a sample of 245 EGM gamblers were sourced from clubs in Victoria, Australia, and 7516 gamblers from an Australian national online survey-panel. Participants' choices amongst sets of hypothetical gambling environments allowed for an estimation of the implied individual-level utilities for each feature (e.g., general sounds, location, etc.). K-means clustering on these utilities identified four unique market segments for EGM gambling, representing four different types of consumers. The segments were named according to their dominant features: Social, Value, High Roller and Internet. We found that the environments orientated towards the Social and Value segments were most conducive to attracting players with relatively few gambling problems, while the High Roller and Internet-focused environments had greater appeal for players with problems and vulnerabilities. This study has generated new insights into the kinds of gambling environments that are most consistent with safe play.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10899-017-9681-7DOI Listing
December 2017