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Alcohol’s Effects on Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) Play Among Probable Pathological and Non-Pathological Gamblers

Article (PDF Available) inJournal of Gambling Behavior 21(3):299-324 · September 2005with84 Reads
DOI: 10.1007/s10899-005-3101-0 · Source: PubMed
Abstract
This study tested whether alcohol increases behaviors associated with video lottery terminal (VLT) play, particularly among probable pathological gamblers. Forty-four regular VLT players were designated either probable pathological gamblers or non-pathological gamblers on the basis of scores on the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS); [Lesieur & Blume (1997). American Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 1184-1188] Gamblers from each SOGS category were randomly assigned to either a moderately intoxicating alcohol dose or a control beverage condition (n = 11 per cell in the 2 x 2 between-subjects design). Following beverage consumption and absorption, participants played a video poker VLT game for up to 30 minutes. Four behaviors were measured: "power-bets" (doubling bet after viewing only two cards of the five-card poker hand); total money spent; mean bet magnitude; and number of minutes played. Alcohol increased time spent playing and rate of power-bets, particular among the probable pathological gamblers. Post hoc analyses revealed that alcohol also influenced the proportion of losing hands played--increasing them among the probable pathological gamblers while decreasing them among the non-pathological gamblers. Clinical and policy implications of the findings are discussed.
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  • ... Data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Condi- tions indicated that 73% of pathological gamblers also had an alcohol use disorder (Hasin & Grant, 2004). In experimental alcohol administration studies, moderate doses of alcohol have been associated with increased duration of gambling (Ellery, Stewart, & Loba, 2005), greater persistence in the face of progressive losses (Kyngdon & Dickerson, 1999), increased average bet size (Cronce & Corbin, 2010), and shorter latencies between bets, leading to faster loss of funds (Phillips & Ogeil, 2007) and riskier betting behaviour among probable pathological gamblers (Ellery & Stewart, 2014). The exact mechanism underlying the effect of alcohol on gambling behaviour has been less well studied; however, alcohol has been shown to impair decision making as a result of a decreased attention and cognitive processing capacity (e.g., Steele & Josephs, 1990) and a decreased ability to inhibit pre-potent behavioural responses (e.g., Fillmore & Vogel-Sprott, 2000). ...
    ... This study demonstrated initial promise in examining drinking PBS along with other risky behaviours, although such effort has not been extended to the study of gambling behaviours despite the high co-occurrence of gambling and alcohol use among college students. Specifically, most previous studies on alcohol use and gambling behaviours used only traditional measures of drinking behaviour such as quantity of use and did not include drinking PBS (Cronce & Corbin, 2010;Ellery et al., 2005;Kyngdon & Dickerson, 1999). Although recent literature has begun to examine specific protective strategies for gambling behaviours (Lostutter, Lewis, Cronce, Neighbors, & Larimer, 2014), little is known about how other PBS used by students, such as drinking PBS, might also serve as protective factors for gambling. ...
  • ... This design allows for examination of the effect of beverage (alcohol or placebo) intake on gambling behavior and related variables. However, most previous studies (Barrett et al., 2015;Breslin et al., 1999;Ellery, Stewart, & Loba, 2005;Giacopassi et al., 1998) with one exception (Ellery & Stewart, 2014) have not controlled for alcohol expectancy effects or the combined effects of alcohol intake and expectancy effects on gambling behavior. The absence or poor control of expectancy is a limitation with evidence that alcohol expectancy can alter perception (Bègue, Bushman, Zerhouni, Subra, & Ourabah, 2013). ...
    ... In addition, the absence of main or interaction effects for gambling persistence, remaining credits at termination, reaction time, and gambling evaluation suggests that alcohol expectancy and intake do not influence the above factors. These results are in contrast to findings from some previous studies (Barrett et al., 2015;Ellery & Stewart, 2014;Ellery et al., 2005;Giacopassi et al., 1998), but in line with findings from others (Breslin et al., 1999;Cronce & Corbin, 2010;Ellery & Stewart, 2014). Several factors may account for the incongruent findings. ...
    ... Theoretically, it is possible that even low alcohol intake affects gambling behavior and that the important behavioral difference exists between moderate alcohol vs. placebo intake, rather than moderate vs. low alcohol intake as observed in this study. Similarly, whereas we used a BAC of 0.08 g% for the moderate alcohol-ingesting conditions, other studies have used differing doses (e.g., 0.06 g%) (Ellery & Stewart, 2014;Ellery et al., 2005). The differences in alcohol dosages administered in previous studies may account for the dissimilarities in findings. ...
  • ... The effect of alcohol on gambling behavior has received much attention in the gambling literature although almost all of these studies are single cross-sectional designs. Bearing in mind this major methodological limitation, research has demonstrated that alcohol consumption is related to more persistent gambling behavior among pathological gamblers (e.g.Ellery et al. 2005), regular gamblers (e.g.Kyngdon & Dickerson 1999), and young adults (e.g.Cronce & Corbin 2010). However, surveys (e.g.Markham et al. 2012) and observational studies (e.g.Baron & Dickerson 1999) have also reported that the number of drinks consumed is negatively associated with the duration of a gambling session and decreases the probability of EGM gambling among non-problem gamblers (Markham et al. 2012). ...
    ... In contrast, limit reaching gamblers did not differ on any gambling behaviors or money lost across venues. This is inconsistent withEllery et al. (2005)who found that probable pathological gamblers spent more time gambling when alcohol intoxicated, but consistent withMarkham et al. (2012)who reported that gambling behavior among problem gamblers did not differ by different contexts. However, as gambling behavior was more variable in ASVs compared to NASVs, this may indicate that limit reaching gamblers also are affected by contextual factors, but less so than non-limit reaching gamblers. ...
  • ... It is interesting that non-online gamblers consumed more alcohol while gambling, both in the univariate and multivariate analyses. This is the one area where online gamblers are less at risk in terms of engaging in a behavior that further increases the likelihood of problem gambling (Ellery, Stewart, & Loba, 2005; Welte, Barnes, Wieczorek, Tidwell, & Parker, 2001). Although previous researchers have documented that drinking while gambling leads to impaired control over gambling behavior and results in larger bets and greater gambling losses (Giacopassi, Stitt, & Vandiver, 1998) the current findings suggest that drinking is primarily done in the context of non-online gambling activities (e.g., simultaneous drinking and gambling at a casino). ...
  • ... Participants were provided with $60 CAD to gamble. VLT play was limited to one spinning reels game (i.e., Royal Spins) to ensure a similar gambling experience for all participants in both conditions (Ellery et al. 2005). However, in an effort to increase external validity, restrictions on gambling play were minimized wherever possible. ...
  • ... A number of previous investigations suggest that acute alcohol ingestion may increase the propensity to gamble. For example, Ellery et al. (2005) reported that probable pathological gamblers who received alcohol gambled significantly longer using a video-lottery terminal (VLT) and engaged in more ‗risky' wagering behaviors relative to those that received a nonalcoholic control drink. The effect of alcohol on risky wagering was recently replicated in a follow up study (Ellery & Stewart 2014). ...
    ... Participants were provided with $40 CAD to gamble. VLT play was limited to a single spinning reels game to ensure a similar gambling experience for all participants across conditions (Ellery et al. 2005). ...
    ... Any amount won by participants (or remaining from the initial $40) was paid out at the end of the experimental session. The experimenter recorded the amount spent per bet as well as the number of bets and these were the outcomes of interest in the study (Ellery et al. 2005). number of beats was recorded over a 3-min interval. ...
  • ... A number of previous investigations suggest that acute alcohol ingestion may increase the propensity to gamble. For example, Ellery et al. (2005) reported that probable pathological gamblers who received alcohol gambled significantly longer using a video-lottery terminal (VLT) and engaged in more 'risky' wagering behaviors relative to those that received a non-alcoholic control drink. The effect of alcohol on risky wagering was recently replicated in a follow-up study (Ellery and Stewart, 2014). ...
    ... Participants were provided with $40 CAD to gamble. VLT play was limited to a single spinning reels game to ensure a similar gambling experience for all participants across conditions (Ellery et al., 2005). Participants could place any size bet per spin (ranging from 5 cents to $2.50) and could play the VLT for as long as they wished over two consecutive 15 min periods or until they ran out money, whichever came first. ...
    ... Any amount won by participants (or remaining from the initial $40) was paid out at the end of the experimental session. The experimenter recorded the amount spent per bet as well as the number of bets and these were the outcomes of interest in the study (Ellery et al., 2005). ...
  • ... A number of previous investigations suggest that acute alcohol ingestion may increase the propensity to gamble. For example, Ellery et al. (2005) reported that probable pathological gamblers who received alcohol gambled significantly longer using a video-lottery terminal (VLT) and engaged in more 'risky' wagering behaviors relative to those that received a non-alcoholic control drink. The effect of alcohol on risky wagering was recently replicated in a follow-up study (Ellery and Stewart, 2014). ...
    ... Participants were provided with $40 CAD to gamble. VLT play was limited to a single spinning reels game to ensure a similar gambling experience for all participants across conditions (Ellery et al., 2005). Participants could place any size bet per spin (ranging from 5 cents to $2.50) and could play the VLT for as long as they wished over two consecutive 15 min periods or until they ran out money, whichever came first. ...
    ... Any amount won by participants (or remaining from the initial $40) was paid out at the end of the experimental session. The experimenter recorded the amount spent per bet as well as the number of bets and these were the outcomes of interest in the study (Ellery et al., 2005). ...
  • ... The current study extends previous work that demonstrated increases in the frequency of risky betting and the amount of time spent playing VLTs among probable pathological gamblers who consumed alcohol (Ellery et al., 2005). The first extension addresses the need to control for alcohol expectancy effects by using a placebo beverage condition, i.e., one in which participants believe they are consuming alcohol, when in fact, they are not, rather than a mix-only control beverage condition, i.e., one in which control group participants are aware that they are consuming beverages containing no alcohol (Ellery et al., 2005). ...
    ... The current study extends previous work that demonstrated increases in the frequency of risky betting and the amount of time spent playing VLTs among probable pathological gamblers who consumed alcohol (Ellery et al., 2005). The first extension addresses the need to control for alcohol expectancy effects by using a placebo beverage condition, i.e., one in which participants believe they are consuming alcohol, when in fact, they are not, rather than a mix-only control beverage condition, i.e., one in which control group participants are aware that they are consuming beverages containing no alcohol (Ellery et al., 2005). The second extension saw the maximal period of VLT play increased from 30 minutes to 90 minutes, to avoid possible ceiling effects when measuring time spent playing. ...
    ... This was intended to allow for a closer approximation of the length of a real world gambling situation, as players had been observed to play an average of approximately 90 minutes in one in vivo study of local VLT players (Loba, Stewart, Klein, & Blackburn, 2001). As a third extension, we used updated VLT machines, identical to those found in local bars and restaurants at the time of data collection, to maintain ecological validity and to evaluate the generalizability of previous results (Ellery et al., 2005) across different machines. The final extension was the addition of the Informational Biases Scale (IBS; Jefferson & Nicki, 2003) to measure irrational thoughts about VLT play and evaluate whether they mediated the effects of alcohol consumption on the gambling behaviors of probable pathological and nonpathological gamblers. ...
  • ... Also consistent with alcohol use being a potential cause of DG are the results of experimental studies demonstrating that subjects will gamble more when under the influence of a moderate dose of alcohol than when given a placebo (e.g., Kyngdon & Dickerson, 1999) and correlational surveys demonstrating that individuals who drink while gambling spend more money (Giacopassi et al., 1998) and are more likely to develop a gambling disorder (Welte et al., 2004a). In addition, experimental studies have demonstrated that the influence of alcohol use on gambling behavior is more pronounced among individuals with a history of DG (Ellery et al., 2005). Conversely, experimental studies have also shown that individuals assigned to participate in a gambling task are more likely to drink an alcoholic beverage than individuals assigned to an alternate task (Stewart et al., 2002). ...
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