Facilitatory Cognitions and ‘Gambling Sense’ Underpin the ‘Merry-GoRound’ of Repeated Relapse in Electronic Gaming Machine Problem Gamblers

Jane Oakes, Rene Pols, Sharon Lawn, Mariastella Pulvirenti

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


    Little is understood about repeated relapse in electronic gaming machine (EGM) problem gambling. There is usually a prolonged delay in problem gamblers (PGs) presenting for treatment, despite seriously distressing consequences. They persist in repeated relapse apparently unable to stop this cycle of harm despite frequent intentions to stop this behaviour.
    This study provides an understanding about the phenomenon of repeated gambling relapse and why gamblers continue to relapse despite the harm. The study comprised of (n= 54) participants purposefully selected who participated in either 1 of 5 focus groups (n=35) or in- depth interviews (n=19) to examine relapse from multiple perspectives, and ascertain how the process of relapse occurs.
    PGs described cognitions used to justify decision making and reasoning about gambling via what several described as ‘gambling sense’ a non-logical decision-making framework of interacting cognitions, which resulted in recurrent relapse and failure to learn from the loss experience. The compulsive, destructive and repeated relapse behaviour leads to a hopeless ‘merry-go-round’ where relapse becomes a way of life, and where behaviour change, and learning to cease gambling, become extremely difficult. EGM PGs’ cognitive processes during relapse seem more complicated than previously considered which has important implications for recovery and treatment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
    EventAlberta Gambling Research Institute’s 16th Annual Conference -
    Duration: 6 Apr 2017 → …


    ConferenceAlberta Gambling Research Institute’s 16th Annual Conference
    Period6/04/17 → …


    • Online Gambling
    • Government Revenue
    • At-Risk Gamblers


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