The assessment of the impact of the reconfiguration on electronic gaming machines as harm minimisation strategies for problem gambling: Final reports


Objectives: The current Project on which this Report is based was designed to examine the impact of proposed changes to machine design features on: 1) Player satisfaction and enjoyment (Study 1). 2) Player behaviour (Study 2). 3) Player expenditure (Study 3). 4) The perceptions of self-identified problem gamblers on whether the modifications would have influenced the development and severity of their problems with gambling (Study 4). For purposes of this project, a South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS: Lesieur & Blume, 1987) score of 5 was used to classify problem gamblers. The mean SOGS score for hotel participants was 3.28 (standard deviation = 4.7), and for the club participants, 2.05 (standard deviation = 2.8). Conclusions: A review of the literature reveals a paucity of empirically derived information describing effective harm minimisation strategies that may inform and guide policy makers. While many strategies have been proposed, very few have been systematically evaluated over the short or long term. There is an imperative need for governments and industry to develop a co-ordinated national strategic plan to carry out systematic independent research on proposed harm minimisation interventions. The present study found evidence to support the view that the reduction of maximum bet size from $10 to $1 on electronic gaming machines would be a potentially effective harm minimisation strategy for a small proportion of players. The reconfiguration of machines to accept denomination notes of $20 or less was not found to be an effective harm minimisation strategy. Evidence did not fully support the adoption of slowing reel spin speed to 5-seconds as an effective strategy. This report has defined harm minimisation in arguably limited terms but follows the recommendations of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse National Working Group on Policy (1996) in distinguishing harm reduction as a strategy from harm reduction as a goal.

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