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High speed gambling reduces self-control even among non-problem gamblers, experimental study shows

High speed gambling can reduce self-control even among non-problem gamblers, according to a study by psychology researchers at Nottingham Trent University (NTU).

Slot machine
High-speed gambling is connected to negatives outcomes such as loss of money and difficulty quitting the game

The findings reveal how the structure of games – in this case speed of play – can contribute to problem gambling.

As part of the research, 50 regular non-problem gamblers gambled with real money on a simulated slot machine across five speed of play conditions.

Participants were asked to withhold responses when a specific colour cue was present. They performed significantly worse during faster speeds of play, suggesting that rapid play and higher levels of stimulation made them more impulsive with less control over their actions.

Contradictory to the results, when measuring their own self-control, participants perceived themselves to be in control of their actions throughout the experiment.

Lead researcher and senior lecturer in Psychology at NTU’s School of Social Sciences, Dr Andrew Harris, said: “Previous research shows a consistent finding that games with faster speeds are preferred by problem gamblers and are associated with more negative gambling outcomes, such as difficulty quitting the game and increased monetary loss.

“The results here are of particular importance, as they show that when playing faster forms of gambling, self-control is impaired relative to slower speed games, even among non-problem gamblers.”

The findings have implications for gambling legislation and harm-minimisation approaches, with the researchers recommending that cues which may assist self-control be made more prominent.

Dr Harris added: “Recent gambling legislation changes have seen caps in the maximum stake size allowed on fixed odds betting terminals as a harm-minimisation measure, but yet to be considered is the contribution of lower stakes but faster speed gambling games, such as slot machines, and the contribution this has towards gambling-related harm.

“Any reduction in speed would need to be balanced with the impact this could have on enjoyment, as this could result in compensatory gambling behaviours, where gamblers might play more gambling lines, bet larger amounts, and play for longer periods of time on slot machines to compensate for the reduced speed of play.

“However, there are a number of useful measures which could be introduced, such as making clocks and monetary spend displays more noticeable to ensure they are regularly processed and attended to by gamblers.”

The full paper, The Relationship Between Gambling Event Frequency, Motor Response Inhibition, Arousal, and Dissociative Experience, has been published in the Journal of Gambling Studies. Researchers include Dr Andrew Harris, Dr Georgina Gous, Bobbie de Wet and Distinguished Professor Mark Griffiths.

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    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.

    NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.

    The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019.

    A total of 82% of its graduates go on to graduate entry employment or graduate entry education or training within six months of leaving. Student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 87% satisfaction score in the 2020 National Student Survey, above the sector average of 83%.

High speed gambling reduces self-control even among non-problem gamblers, experimental study shows

Published on 19 August 2020
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Social Sciences

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