The Annual Conference of the National Association for Gambling Studies (NAGS) Australia

24 Oct 2017

Dr David Rowell will be presenting a preliminary clinical protocol developed with his co-collaborators (Professor Dorte Gyrd-Hansen, Sarah Hare and Professor Alex Blaszczynski), to test the feasibility of using actuarially fair electronic gaming machines (AF-EGMs) to reduce the social costs of gambling.

The feasibility of using AF-EGM, as a harm minimization strategy for problem gamblers has been considered previously (Rowell & Gyrd-Hansen 2014). The premise that underpins the proposed intervention is that it is not the quantity of bets placed but revenue lost, which generates the social costs of gambling. An AFEGM, configured to provide an average return to player (RTP) of 100%, implies a price per bet equal to zero. Since revenue is the product of price and quantity, zero prices would equate to zero expected revenue. The purpose of the strategy would be to induce gambler fatigue and thereby preventing the gambler’s initial stake from depreciating to zero as it does when habitually gambling with the commercially owned and operated AF-EGM. AF-EGMs, would not deliver an operating profit. The default funding model would be publically owned and operated AFEGM’s, however alternative funding models do exist. See Gambling with Time for a brief description. 

In this research, we develop a clinical protocol to test the feasibility of utilizing AF-EGM’s as a harm minimization strategy, for problem gamblers. Gambling arousal is hypothesized to play a central role in the onset and maintenance of problem gambling (Baudinet & Blaszczynski 2013). The efficacy, (performance in a controlled setting) and effectiveness (performance in an uncontrolled setting) of the proposed intervention are analysed. The key economic question we address is would actuarially fair, and unfair, EGMs be complements or substitutes. We present computer simulations of problem gambler behaviour under uncertainty using decision analytic software, to explore and illustrate the feasibility of the proposal. The aim of this research is to establish proof-in-principle and develop a research protocol required to conduct a clinical trial to test the feasibility of utilizing AFEGMs as a harm minimisation strategy for problem gamblers.

While participating at NAGS Dr Rowell will join a panel with Sarah Hare, Tony Philips, Cate Carr and Mara Lovrin, to discuss “Is responsible gambling possible?”