Gamblers often use alcohol and/or tobacco when they gamble but little is known about the extent to which drinking or smoking affects gambling behavior.
This study examined the acute effects of alcohol and nicotine-containing tobacco administration on the subjective and behavioral responses to video-lottery terminal (VLT) gambling in 16 regular video-lottery terminal players (11 male) who were also regular consumers of alcohol and tobacco.
During four double-blind, counterbalanced sessions, participants assessed the subjective effects of nicotine-containing tobacco or denicotinized tobacco following the administration of a moderately intoxicating dose of alcohol or a placebo beverage. They were then given $40 and provided with an opportunity to gamble using an authentic VLT.
Alcohol administration was associated with increased ratings of several subjective descriptors including “intoxicated”, “high”, “want alcohol”, “crave cigarette”, and “want to gamble” but did not affect subsequent gambling behavior. In contrast, relative to denicotinized tobacco, the administration of nicotine containing tobacco was associated with increased average wagers, but did not significantly alter subjective state.
Findings suggest that both alcohol and nicotine-containing tobacco may acutely increase the propensity to gamble using VLTs, but they may do so through separate processes.