Gambling addiction: Gambling as help for addiction problems?

Gambling addiction: Gambling as help for addiction problems?

The United Kingdom has come up with some curious ideas and proposals about gambling in recent years. However, it has never been as curious as it is now. A group of scientists has now declared that a certain type of gambling can help to identify possible problem gamblers more quickly. This, in turn, could help gambling providers to "treat" these players in a more targeted and speedy manner. But how is the whole thing supposed to work? The researchers have come up with a theory that has been awarded the Nobel Prize. So the approach does not seem to have been plucked out of thin air.


British researchers study gambling

Gambling is booming in Great Britain like perhaps in hardly any other country in the world. In addition to this, a large part of research in Great Britain is also concerned with getting to the bottom of the causes of problem gambling behavior, for example. And so gambling was once again a topic at this year's meeting of the British Psychological Society, which gathered in Harrogate, England. And it was above all the researchers from the University of Northumbria who caused a stir. They presented a theory that will apparently enable gambling companies to identify problem gamblers among regular customers more quickly in the future. And in this theory, gambling itself plays a very important role. What sounds strange at first is, however, a logical approach from a scientific point of view.

The scientists Dr. Mark Moss and Dom Gallon from Newcastle, for example, took up the new expectation theory, which is known in English as prospect theory. They used numerous data from decisions in lottery situations and used the data as a basis for the theory - and with success, because the psychologist Daniel Kahnemann was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2002 for the development of this theory. But what is this theory specifically about? Looking ahead, we will say that in this study live games, such as Dragon Tiger, presented on the website

The Prospect Theory tests the risk appetite of players

In detail, the Prospect Theory is about the fact that players in gambling do not always act according to logical criteria, but are strongly influenced by whether a win or a loss is considered more likely. If a win is in prospect, most people choose the low-risk path. If, on the other hand, a loss is in prospect, this risk appetite is transformed. Expressed in figures, this would mean, for example, that most people would accept a certain profit of 2,000 euros, even if a profit of 3,000 euros were waiting as an alternative with an 80 percent probability. With an imminent loss of a safe 2,000 euros, most people would in turn decide to risk losing the 3,000 euros with an 80 percent probability.

This behavior was addressed in the researchers' study. Specifically, 120 subjects were selected for this purpose and examined with regard to their risk appetite. 40 subjects with a high-risk appetite and 40 subjects with a low-risk appetite were then placed in gaming situations that involved different levels of risk. Almost all players chose the low-risk route. However, a difference was then analyzed in the behavior when losses were imminent. Here, the more risk-averse group was much more willing to take risks.

How can casinos use the analysis?

But how can this analysis be useful for casinos and online casinos? Dr. Moss himself provides this answer because, in the eyes of the researcher, a game could be programmed in this way, with which the players' willingness to take risks could be tested even before playing for real money. "We propose a simple "What is Your Style?" game, designed according to our scenarios and then implemented by gambling operators before any funds even change hands," Moss says. The researcher adds, "Since Prospect Theory shows that people are unable to assess probabilities and then choose the most logical option, this would make it significantly more difficult to outsmart the measures by hiding one's attitude toward gambling per se."


By this, then, the expert means that it would be significantly more difficult for players to trick the system in the event of problem gambling behavior than to simply play regularly according to their own gambling behavior. How exactly the system is supposed to work is not discussed further for this reason, at least not yet. So far, it is only a theoretical approach, but it could bring some success in practice, especially in the UK. The British suffer from a horrendous number of problem gamblers who are obviously no longer able to control their own gambling behavior. The importance of research in this area has therefore increased significantly in recent years - and is likely to continue to do so in the future. At the same time, of course, it remains to be discussed what the possible consequences of the evaluation might be in practice. So, for example, should players with problematic gambling behavior then be excluded altogether? Or would there merely be a limitation on the stakes? A number of questions are still open in this discussion about a thoroughly sensible approach.