Gambling motivations, money-limiting strategies, and precommitment preferences of problem versus non-problem gamblers

Abstract

Studies attempting to identify the specific 'addictive' features of electronic gaming machines (EGMs) have yielded largely inconclusive results, suggesting that it is the interaction between a gambler's cognitions and the machine, rather than the machine itself, which fuels excessive play. Research has reported that machine players with gambling problems adopt a number of erroneous cognitive perceptions regarding the probability of winning and the nature of randomness. What is unknown, however, is whether motivations for gambling and attitudes toward pre-session monetary limit-setting vary across levels of gambling severity, and whether proposed precommitment strategies would be useful in minimizing excessive gambling expenditures. The current study explored these concepts in a sample of 127 adults, ages 18 to 81, attending one of four gambling venues in Queensland, Australia. The study found that problem gamblers were more likely than other gamblers to play machines to earn income or escape their problems rather than for fun and enjoyment. Similarly, they were less likely to endorse any type of monetary limit-setting prior to play. They were also reticent to adopt the use of a 'smart card' or other strategy to limit access to money during a session, though they indicated they lost track of money while gambling and were rarely aware of whether they were winning or losing during play. Implications for precommitment policies and further research are discussed.

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