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Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I had a couple of questions/thoughts about the last two Wagers:
1. "gambling machines" -- does this mean video poker and/or ??
2. In general, I think of problem gamblers as usually attached to one, maybe two types of games. ("I play blackjack, but occasionally will play x". "I'm a poker player.") So, I was surprised at the statement that "More than half of gamblers with problems...played 7 or more games..." . I take this to mean that if the gambler said yes to any of the DSM criteria during their lifetime, the number of games reflected any they had ever played? So, my question is around whether or not there was any indication that the game they played was part of the era of problem gambling (did they play bingo once as a kid, but then 20 years later start playing the dogs daily-- and that would count as two games? Also, there is some thought, probably not researched, that over the lifetime of a gambler, the games may move from more skill/action to more luck/escape games. (I've read the theory, don't know the origin).
3. Lastly, if I read this correctly, cards, sports betting, etc. are up to 20 times more likely to be associated with problem gambling than slots. Am I reading this correctly? I find this quite different than clinical experience (and might be indicative of who seeks treatment, who doesn't). And the recovery rate is even higher. I found this even more surprising.

Thanks for your help,

Dear Judy,

Thank you for questions.

“Gambling machines” is a broad phrase encompassing four different terms: “slot machine,” a “fruit machine,” a “poker machine,” and a “video lottery terminal (VLT).”

More than half of problem gamblers (who met 1-4 lifetime criteria) played 7 or more games. This means that they played 7 different games one or more times at any point during their lifetimes.

Although cards and sports betting were about 20 times more likely to be associated with problem gambling than slots, this estimate is imprecise because the sample of problem and pathological gamblers was quite small. This creates large confidence intervals, so we must remember to interpret all findings about pathological and problem gamblers in the study with caution.

Clinical experience and clinical epidemiology indicate that pathological gamblers are more likely to play slot machines than most other games, as evidenced in the Iowa Gambling Study. Again, we must interpret these findings cautiously because because the Iowa study sample represents treatment seekers only. There was no one who received treatment in the Kessler (2008) study. It is likely that that evidence obtained from clinical populations differs from evidence generated by household populations. Throughout their lifetime, disordered gamblers might change their game of choice, and different games might have different risk factors. For current research on this subject, we recommend the following article, which compares actual online betting activities of heavily involved bettors to activities of less involved bettors over a two year period:

Again, thanks you for your interest and for writing to the BASIS

--BASIS Staff

LaBrie R.A., Kaplan, S.A., LaPlante, D.A., Nelson, S.E., and Shaffer, H.J. (2008) Inside The Virtual Casino: A Prospective Longitudinal Study Of Actual Internet Casino Gambling, European Journal of Public Health. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckn02.
This paper is available on our website at http://www.divisiononaddictions.org/html/library.htm.

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