Details from the Scottish Gambling Education Network meeting on 16 Sept

September 29, 2021

Our network meeting this September focused on the psychology of gambling.

We’re delighted so many members were able to attend and share insights, and challenges, around gambling education and best practice.

Dr Luke Clark (University of British Columbia)

Luke presented research from Canada on gambling participation from the Understanding the Odds report. He also described the ‘biopsychosocial framework’ for understanding harmful gambling, and the interaction between our psychology and our surroundings.

Luke then highlighted two of the most common cognitive distortions: the gambler’s fallacy, and the illusion of control. The gambler’s fallacy is thinking that past outcomes can help you predict future outcomes, when the outcomes are independent and random. For example, thinking heads is ‘due’ because a coin has landed tails three times in a row. The illusion of control is when we overestimate the role of skill in something random, like slots.

Owen Baily (NHS, expert by experience)

Owen shared his experience of homelessness and the criminal justice system as a result of his toxic relationship with gambling. He also described the context around him while he was growing up, and the role that played in his experience of gambling harm.

Owen then shared his journey through recovery – he now feels free from gambling.

He was recently interviewed on Channel 4.

Dr Joanna Lloyd (University of Wolverhampton) and Dr James Close (University of Plymouth)

Jo and James shared insights from their experience as researchers on the Lifting the Lid on Loot-Boxes report. They highlighted the many motivations young people have for buying loot boxes – some motivations were similar to those people might have for gambling, such as the excitement of opening them, trying to fit in with friends, or trying to get more expensive (rare) items. For others, opening loot boxes was about advancing in the game, or getting specific items.

They also shared the difficulties around regulating loot boxes in a similar way to gambling, which has been proposed by some stakeholders while the UK Government is reviewing our gambling laws. Given challenges like how to define loot boxes, and the resources needed to regulate them, a ban may be the easiest way to effectively manage the risk of harm.

Unfortunately, we experienced technical difficulties which meant that Patrick Foster from EPIC Risk Management was unable to present. He will share EPIC’s research on gambling-related language at the next SGEN meeting.

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