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High Stakes Gambling Problem

By: Sally Crown
In March 2008 the Minister for Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe, asked the Gambling Commission to identify what further research could be done to understand the impact of high-stake, high-prize gaming machines on problem gamblers.

The program of work agreed will in the short term include qualitative research looking at specific gaming machine features. A panel of experts will also help the Commission to develop a longer term research program. This research program will focus on gaming machine regulation and minimizing harm. It will report to the Minister on our progress by the end of June 2009.

The Strategy Board (for responsible gambling) will decide on longer term research priorities.

An exploratory desk exercise was carried to improve understanding on the potential harmful effects of high-stake, high-prize gaming machines on problem gamblers. Research and literature in three areas were also considered:

- Causal links between the availability of high-stake, high-prize gaming machines and the development of problem gambling.

- The attraction of these machines to existing problem gamblers.

- The exacerbation of gambling problems from access to such machines.

The findings from the exploratory desk exercise have been published in the first instance there was no general agreement in the research from Britain and other jurisdictions about how much high-stake, high-prize gaming machines cause gamblers to become problem gamblers. However the Commission states:

- Evidence suggests that there are associations between gaming machines and problem gambling, and that machine players are most likely to contact national telephone help lines.

- Evidence suggests that while gaming machines do appear to appeal to many gamblers, they seem to be particularly attractive to those at risk of, or with a gambling problem.

- Compared to non-problem gamblers, problem gamblers tend to play on gaming machines more frequently, and spend more time and money on them.Certain features of gaming machines, such as fast games or offers of free games, appeal to gamblers and are therefore associated with higher levels of gambling and gambling-related harm.

- Research from some countries suggests that the accessibility of gaming machines has some association both with the level of gambling and with problem gambling rates. In particular local access to the machines seems to be relevant - probably because many gamblers tend to gamble closer to home.
- Some evidence suggests that problem gambling behaviors fluctuate over time and that many gamblers intermittently experience difficulties controlling their gambling.

- There is uncertainty in the available research about how best to minimize the harm that gamblers are exposed to when using gaming machines.

- The research suggests that to understand why most gamblers can enjoy using gaming machines without significant excess, but some seriously overspend and others become addicted, we need access to players in their gambling habitats and data on players. Both would need a substantial research effort as well as support from the industry.

There are various overseas initiatives that impose harm minimization measures. Much of this work is still ongoing or only just emerging. It will in due course provide insights into the nature of the links between problem gambling and machine gaming.

Sally Crown writes for bingo deposit bonus a UK gambling portal. Her most popular articles include play bingo for real money and here most recent work real cash bingo an article to help new players.
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