An explorative investigation of the effects of information technology on gambling and gambling-related behaviours

Abstract

Raylu and Oei (2002) acknowledged a paucity of research into pathological gambling, and that a lack of a uniform conceptual model outlining integral aetiological processes has restricted development of effective treatments. It is proposed that this problem has increased as a result of the influence of Information Technology on the structural and environmental characteristics of gambling, and gambling-related behaviours. Current conceptualisations of pathological gambling have been based on research into traditional vis-à-vis forms of gambling. It is proposed that current understandings of pathological gambling behaviour that have not incorporated research of online gambling and IT-related gambling behaviour are incomplete. The objective of this research programme was to commence explorative research into IT-related gambling behaviours for the purpose of providing emergent theoretical concepts to investigate in future research as potential risk factors for pathological gambling. Using a mixed-method approach to data collection and analysis, the thesis presents a detailed conceptualisation of cognitive and behavioural processes involving IT that are employed by gamblers. The direction of investigation within the thesis was determined by the emergent theoretical framework presented in the first study, which provided a substantive picture of how IT has affected gambling behaviour. The core category to emerge suggests that IT increases motivation to participate in gambling, and increases pre-occupation with gambling, caused by a perceived increase in the ability to control gambling outcomes, an increase in perceived consumer value and an increase in the expediency of the behaviour. The structural characteristics of online gambling were also implicated as causal factor in the reduction of gambling discipline leading to an increase in participation. Several of the theoretical propositions to emerge through grounded theory were explored in the remaining studies. Implications of emergent findings regarding responsible and pathological gambling were discussed, and recommendations for future research studies were proposed. Overall, the thesis presents a thorough description of how IT has affected gambling behaviour, which provides direction for future research to assist in expanding current aetiological understandings of pathological gambling to be inclusive of the impact of developing technology.

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