Here at the Gambling Treatment Clinic (GTC), one of our major goals is to conduct and disseminate high quality research on gambling. Below you'll find information on projects we are currently working on, as well as work conducted by other research organisations that we support. For more detailed information, collaboration opportunities, or if you are interested in participating in any of our research, please contact us, or leave your details here.
The influence of features of the online environment on risk taking: Unravelling the impact of social cues
Researcher: Dr. Sally Gainsbury.
Project description: Dr. Sally Gainsbury is aiming to develop and test a conceptual model to understand the psychological processes underlying risk taking online, focusing on the impact of social cues. This project aims to shed light on how specific online environmental cues can impact risk taking. This will enhance our understanding of how websites can encourage risk taking and steps that can be taken to reduce associated harms such as cybercrime, overspending, and oversharing personal information, which is highly important in this digital age. Anticipated outcomes will directly benefit policy-makers by identifying how sites can be made safer and how to educate people to avoid sites that may encourage them to take risks or engage in anti-social behaviours and enhance capacity for safe decision making online. Dr. Gainsbury is interested in working with students who wish to conduct research in this area and is available as a PhD Supervisor.
Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
Researchers: Prof. Alex Blaszczynski and Dylan Pickering.
Project description: Self-exclusion is a harm minimisation strategy designed to help problem gamblers by restricting their access to gambling opportunities. ClubsNSW have recently developed an online program, Multi-Venue Self-Exclusion (MVSE), that allows people to self-exclude from up to 35 venues at once, privately with a counsellor. Research Psychologist, Dylan Pickering, is currently working with ClubsNSW to empirically evaluate MVSE, looking at motivations for/barriers to joining, identifying aspects of the process that can be improved, and assessing self-reported benefits associated with individual's involvement.
Researchers: Prof. Alex Blaszczynski, Brittany Keen and Lanhowe Chen.
Project description: A current issue of concern is that while there has been a reduction in gambling, and more specifically, electronic gaming machine (EGM) use, there has not been a comparable reduction in expenditure in some venues, such as registered clubs. In Victoria, despite a reduction in EGM play overall, moderate-risk and problem gamblers are tending to play EGMs more frequently, indicating that play is intensifying among problem EGM gamblers (Hare, 2015). This pattern of intensified play may also be occurring in NSW. It is important to both empirically verify the same phenomenon and understand characteristics of continuing and intensified EGM players in a NSW sample. The purpose of this research is to map the extent of any decline in EGM use in NSW clubs, and determine if this is motivated by a shift toward other forms of gambling, or if gambling-related expenditure is being spent on other forms of entertainment within club venues.
Daily Fantasy Sports in Australia
Researchers: Dylan Pickering, Brittany Keen and Prof. Alex Blaszczynski.
Project description: In the United States, there is public controversy over the legality of daily fantasy sports (DFS), contingent on its classification as a type of gambling or as a competition of skill. The researchers argue the irrelevance of this issue and contend that DFS should be subject to consumer protection laws that correspond to any harms associated with participation in the activity. In this study, Australian DFS players and sports bettors are being surveyed to assess the nature and level of their involvement in each activity and to map any unique harms that arise from DFS participation relative to normal sports betting behaviour.
Funding:National Association for Gambling Studies
Problem gambling prevention in young adults and adolescents
Researcher: Brittany Keen
Supervisors: Prof. Alex Blaszczynski and Dr. Fadi Anjoul.
Project description: Misconceptions about how poker machines work play a primary role in the development of gambling problems. Young people are particularly vulnerable to misinformation about gambling, thus prevention programs should aim to teach young people about the unprofitability of gaming machines to prevent later problems. Current programs promote awareness of consequences, however do little to explain how gambling problems develop. This research aims to test the effectiveness of a brief animation explaining key concepts of gaming machines, how they operate, why they are unprofitable in the long term, and how people can develop related misconceptions. The intervention will be trialled in an adolescent population in NSW schools, and compared to a traditional risk-awareness approach, as well as an information-only approach. The same three interventions will also be trialled with real-life young gaming machine players in NSW clubs. It is expected that those in the experimental group will have fewer misconceptions about gaming machines than those in the risk-awareness or information-only group post-intervention and at six-month follow-ups.
What does it mean to recover from a gambling disorder?
Researcher: Dylan Pickering
Supervisors: Prof. Alex Blaszczynski and Dr. Sally Gainsbury..
Project description: There is currently no agreed upon definition of recovery from a gambling disorder. Evidence was provided by a recent systematic review we conducted revealing an array of 62 outcome measures used to measure aspects of recovery in gambling treatment studies. This has significant implications for the development of best practice treatments as it precludes cross-comparisons of studies. Dylan Pickering, a PhD student of Alex Blaszczynski and Sally Gainsbury, is currently working to develop the a multidimensional self-report scale that will capture all aspects of recovery, from diagnostic-specific symptoms and behaviours to broader quality of life domains. The scale will have utility in both research and clinical settings.
Empirical evaluation of the ClubsNSW Chaplaincy Program
Researchers: Prof. Alex Blaszczynski, Melanie Hartman,
Lanhowe Chen, and Michelle Beckett.
Project description: The GTC is researching the Chaplaincy Program run in partnership between ClubsNSW and The Salvation Army. The aim is to evaluate the key short-and-long term benefits of having a uniformed chaplain on-site at NSW clubs. As a way of providing prevention and treatment strategies for problem gambling, the Chaplaincy Program focuses on addressing various health-related issues club members may be facing. Chaplains provide practical and emotional support for not only gambling specific issues, but other conditions that may be negatively influencing club members, whether it be other mental health issues, physical health issues, or other general life issues. The intention is that by approaching gambling behaviour with a holistic approach, the Chaplaincy Program can be utilized as a harm-minimization strategy available to club facilities. Currently the researchers are collecting self-reported data from various chaplains and club patrons.