Assessing the contribution of gambling venue design elements to problem gambling behaviour

Abstract

Structural characteristics of a gambling venue may moderate gambling behaviour (Griffiths & Parke, 2003). The goal of this project was to explore patterns of problem gambling that emerge from the interaction of variation in individual temperament (chronic emotion of individuals across a variety of settings) and variation in emotional reaction engendered by different types of gambling settings themselves. The second goal of this project was to test directly the hypothesis that casino design acts to moderate psychological determinants of gambling behaviour in different sectors of gamblers. Participants were categorized according to the Canadian Problem Gambling Index (CPGI; Ferris & Wynne, 2001), and measured along dimensions hypothesized to predict gambling (e.g., temperament; Mehrabian, 1996). The main theoretical framework guiding the identification of the critical environmental variables assumes that environments differ in the extent to which they elicit pleasure, arousal, and dominance (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974a), as well as in their information rate and restorative quality (Korpela & Hartig, 1996). In a set of preliminary studies (Finlay, Kanetkar, Londerville, & Marmurek, 2006), we have documented a contrast between two gambling environment designs: the playground design (Kranes, 1995) and the gaming design (Friedman, 2000). Playground designs afford higher levels of pleasure and restoration than do gaming designs, but they induce a higher intention to gamble irresponsibly. Results of the current research corroborate these findings. Overall, gambling intention for a playground design was predicted by restoration, CPGI scores, and whether the pleasure in the setting matched an individual's pleasure temperament. For a gaming design, only restoration and CPGI predicted irresponsible gambling intention. Five different d├ęcor variations within each of the playground and gaming designs were rendered into video simulations that were viewed by 484 gamblers and rated according to the emotions and behaviour intentions that the environments induced. Flashing lighting increased irresponsible gambling intentions regardless of a casino's macro design. Gamblers estimate that they are more likely to gamble beyond planned levels in a crowded casino. The use of a monotone colour scheme reduced the restorative quality of a gaming casino and increased gambling intention. Colour variations had no association with gambling intention in a playground casino. The grouping of slot machines with similar themes decreased psychological well-being for a playground design and increased gambling intention for a gaming design. Restoration increased with a symmetrical layout, but only for the gaming design. Implications for the design of casinos and the treatment of problem gambling are discussed.

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