Debiasing of Gambling Beliefs and Behaviors Using a Digital Gambling Accelerator


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Abstract

Problem gamblers tend to adhere to rigid rules about the chances of winning and are resistant to counterfactual information. To promote a more accurate understanding of the odds of scratch-off ticket gambling, we created a brief debiasing intervention consisting of a digital gambling accelerator program that offers demonstrations of the long-term outcomes of gambling. Using a sample of nontreatment seeking scratch-off lottery gamblers recruited from the community (42 subclinical and 45 probable pathological gamblers), we compared the accelerator intervention to brief motivational interviewing (MI) and a control condition. Participants rated their chances of winning, urge to gamble, and readiness to change before and after the interventions. Self-reported dollar amount spent on scratch-off tickets and number of days gambled were assessed at baseline and again at 2- and 4-week follow-ups. Following the active interventions, gamblers in both conditions reported greater readiness to change than controls, and those in the accelerator condition also gave lower ratings of their chances of winning and urge to gamble. Marginal models showed participants in the accelerator condition gambled fewer days at the 2-week follow-up and spent less money at both the 2- and 4-week follow-ups compared to controls; no other between-subjects differences achieved statistical significance. Digital gambling accelerators can impact several clinically relevant domains of gambling and may be useful as stand-alone or adjunct interventions to treat gambling problems.

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