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Special Issue "The Social Cost and Public Health Impact of Gambling and Online Game Playing"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2023 | Viewed by 16978

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Emilien Jeannot
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Addiction Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne, 1004 Lausanne, Switzerland
Interests: epidemiology; public health; behavioral addiction
Dr. Olivier Simon
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centre du jeu excessif, Addiction Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne, Switherland
Interests: behavioral addiction; harm reduction; public health
Prof. Dr. Yasser Khazaal
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Addiction Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne, Switherland
Interests: e-health; behavioral addiction
Prof. Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
National Centre for Behavioural Addictions, London, UK
Interests: behavioral addiction; harm reduction
Dr. Jean Michel Costes
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Observatoire des jeux, Ministère des finances, Paris, France
Interests: harm reduction; public health; social cost

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are excited to present a Special Issue on the social and public health impact of gambling and online game playing in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. We would like to promote widespread discussion on the burden of gambling and online game playing in the interdisciplinary area of health sciences and public health.

The use of the internet, computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices for online gambling and game playing has dramatically increased in recent decades, and this increase is associated not only with clear and extensive benefits to the users, but also with documented cases of excessive use, which often have negative health and social consequences. These consequences are not only limited to the players, but also affect their families and others to whom they are close. In an increasing number of countries, the problem has developed to become a significant public health concern.

This Special Issue will facilitate a broader understanding of the risks to public health and society. It also aims to highlight the aspects of regulation, prevention, e-health prevention, and risk reduction related to these difficulties.

Dr. Emilien Jeannot
Dr. Olivier Simon
Prof. Dr. Yasser Khazaal
Prof. Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones
Dr. Jean Michel Costes
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • public health
  • gambling and online game playing
  • social cost
  • public policy

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
Spending Money in Free-to-Play Games: Sociodemographic Characteristics, Motives, Impulsivity and Internet Gaming Disorder Specificities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(23), 15709; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192315709 - 25 Nov 2022
Viewed by 218
Abstract
Free-to-Play games (F2P) have spread widely all over the world in recent years. The current economic model for these games is based on microtransactions, where gamers can purchase additional items or services inside the game. The aim of the present study was (1) [...] Read more.
Free-to-Play games (F2P) have spread widely all over the world in recent years. The current economic model for these games is based on microtransactions, where gamers can purchase additional items or services inside the game. The aim of the present study was (1) to describe the profiles and gaming patterns of F2P gamers, and (2) to compare F2P gamers who spend money and those who do not, in terms of sociodemographic characteristics, gaming experience, motivations, impulsivity, and risk of Internet gaming disorder (IGD), in a representative sample of 5062 French online gamers. Among the total sample, 68.6% were past-year F2P gamers. Among the F2P gamers, 26.1% had spent money in the game. Spending in the game was strongly associated with IGD (6.9% of F2P gamers were disordered gamers). Flow (gaming experience) and escape (motivation) were strongly associated with spending in the game and IGD. Negative urgency (impulsivity) was positively associated with spending in the game while positive urgency was positively associated with IGD. Given the strong association between spending in the game and IGD, these results highlight the importance of prevention and regulation in the field. Full article
Article
Evaluation of the Psychometric Properties of the Arab Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS) by Item Response Theory Modeling (IRT)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(19), 12099; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191912099 - 24 Sep 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 434
Abstract
Introduction: The psychometric properties of the Arab translation of the Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS) have been previously studied by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) with AMOS software using the asymptotically distribution-free (ADF) estimator. Unidimensionality has been achieved at the cost of correlating several [...] Read more.
Introduction: The psychometric properties of the Arab translation of the Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS) have been previously studied by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) with AMOS software using the asymptotically distribution-free (ADF) estimator. Unidimensionality has been achieved at the cost of correlating several item variance errors. However, several reviews of SEM software packages and estimation methods indicate that the option of robust standard errors is not present in the AMOS package and that ADF estimation may yield biased parameter estimates. We therefore explored a second analysis through item response theory (IRT) using the parametric graded response model (GRM) and the marginal maximum likelihood (MML) estimation method embedded in the LTM package of R software. Differential item functioning (DIF) or item bias across subpopulations was also explored within IRT framework as different samples were investigated. The objective of the current study is to (1) analyze the Arab CIUS scale with IRT, (2) investigate DIF in three samples, and (3) contribute to the ongoing debate on Internet-use-related addictive behaviors using the CIUS items as a proxy. Methods: We assessed three samples of people, one in Algeria and two in Lebanon, with a total of 1520 participants. Results: Almost three out of every five items were highly related to the latent construct. However, the unidimensionality hypothesis was not supported. Furthermore, besides being locally dependent, the scale may be weakened by DIF across geographic regions. Some of the CIUS items related to increasing priority, impaired control, continued use despite harm, and functional impairment as well as withdrawal and coping showed good discriminative capabilities. Those items were endorsed more frequently than other CIUS items in people with higher levels of addictive Internet use. Conclusions: Contrary to earlier ADF estimation findings, unidimensionality of the CIUS scale was not supported by IRT parametric GRM in a large sample of Arab speaking participants. The results may be helpful for scale revision. By proxy, the study contributes to testing the validity of addiction criteria applied to Internet use related-addictive behaviors. Full article
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Article
Part of the Game? Exploring the Prevalence and Normalization of Gambling in Belgian Sports Clubs
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(11), 6527; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19116527 - 27 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 682
Abstract
Gambling and sports are entangled in a close relationship. However, little remains known about gambling behaviors and perceptions in sports. Drawing on normalization theory, this study explores the prevalence and predictors of problem gambling as well as the normalization of gambling (including its [...] Read more.
Gambling and sports are entangled in a close relationship. However, little remains known about gambling behaviors and perceptions in sports. Drawing on normalization theory, this study explores the prevalence and predictors of problem gambling as well as the normalization of gambling (including its availability and accessibility, prevalence, and socio-cultural accommodation) in sports clubs. A cross-sectional study design was implemented, based on an online survey completed by 817 Belgian sports club actors. This survey consisted of the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) and questions about personal and socio-cultural factors regarding gambling. Data were analyzed with SPSS 26 software, using descriptive statistics and an ordinal logistic regression analysis. These analyses exposed being male, being aged 26–35 years old, and being involved in football (soccer) as factors that might be linked with higher levels of problem gambling in sports. Furthermore, sports betting is especially shown to be normalized in sports clubs given its prevalence, and its frequently organized and discussed character. Moreover, respondents disclosed a lack of formal rules (96%) and education initiatives (98.7%) on gambling in their sports club. Given the indicated support for gambling regulations and educational measures, this study may inform sports organizations about how to help denormalize gambling. Full article
Article
The Gambling Habits of University Students in Aragon, Spain: A Cross-Sectional Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(8), 4553; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084553 - 09 Apr 2022
Viewed by 966
Abstract
Gambling has become a routine form of entertainment for many young people. The aim of this study was to describe the gambling behavior that university students are developing in Aragon, Spain, and to analyze whether these habits are more common among students of [...] Read more.
Gambling has become a routine form of entertainment for many young people. The aim of this study was to describe the gambling behavior that university students are developing in Aragon, Spain, and to analyze whether these habits are more common among students of sports science, on the assumption that they are more likely to have a higher exposure to betting company marketing. A cross-sectional design was applied, with data collected on advertising exposure, gambling habits and experiences, and opinions on the impact of gambling and its regulation from 516 undergraduate students from the University of Zaragoza. The online survey included ad hoc questions and the “Pathological Gambling Short Questionnaire” to screen for potential gambling disorders. Almost half of the sample had bet money at least once in their life (48.1%), and 2.4% screened positive for consideration of a possible diagnosis of pathological gambling. Betting shops (44.2%) were the most common gambling option, and students of sports science showed a higher prevalence of pathological gambling and had greater tendencies to make bets. Gambling is perceived as a normal leisure activity by a significant part of university students. The development of transversal strategies is required to raise awareness towards the potential dangers of gambling. Full article
Article
The Influence of Lockdown on the Gambling Pattern of Swiss Casinos Players
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1973; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041973 - 18 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3155
Abstract
The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has had a major impact on most societies worldwide, including the closure of non-essential businesses in spring 2020. The present study considers its impact upon gambling behavior. Particularly, changes in self-reported gambling by Swiss, land-based casino players are examined. [...] Read more.
The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has had a major impact on most societies worldwide, including the closure of non-essential businesses in spring 2020. The present study considers its impact upon gambling behavior. Particularly, changes in self-reported gambling by Swiss, land-based casino players are examined. The main characteristics of respondents who played or did not play during lockdown are also investigated. This study is embedded in an ongoing longitudinal study that examines the gambling behavior of casino players at three points in time. All respondents who had participated in the first wave of the longitudinal study by the cut-off date (15th March 2020) were asked about their gambling behavior during lockdown in a supplementary online survey three weeks after the end of lockdown. A total of 55% of the 110 respondents reported having played during lockdown. Gambling intensity significantly decreased (p < 0.001) in our sample. Considering only those respondents (n = 66) who reported having gambled during lockdown, gambling intensity also decreased (p < 0.001), but online gambling significantly increased (p < 0.002). Those players who have increased their gambling activity require particular attention. It is important that casinos respond with appropriate player protection measures to those who have increased their gambling activity during the pandemic. Full article
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Article
Gambling Self-Control Strategies: A Qualitative Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 586; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020586 - 12 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1494
Abstract
There is limited research exploring the perceptions of people who gamble on the self-control strategies used to limit their gambling. This qualitative study examines self-control strategies used to limit money spent gambling, frequency of gambling, and time spent gambling. A total of 56 [...] Read more.
There is limited research exploring the perceptions of people who gamble on the self-control strategies used to limit their gambling. This qualitative study examines self-control strategies used to limit money spent gambling, frequency of gambling, and time spent gambling. A total of 56 people who gamble (27 males and 29 females) participated in nine focus groups and five individual interviews in Montreal, Calgary, and Toronto (Canada). Self-control strategies used to limit their gambling expenditure were more common than frequency or time limiting strategies. Strategies to limit expenditure included: restricting access to money; keeping track of money allocated to gambling activities; and avoiding certain types of gambling activities. Various contextual factors were identified to influence those strategies, including social influences; winning or losing; using substances. Findings from this study emphasize the importance of communicating clear gambling limits to people who gamble, as well as the value of developing individual self-control strategies to limit frequency, time and money spent gambling. Full article
Article
Being a Gambler during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Study with Italian Patients and the Effects of Reduced Exposition
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 424; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020424 - 07 Jan 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2393
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic, with the consequent lockdown of about 3 months, can be viewed as an experimental model to observe the impact of the depletion of environmental factors that stimulate gambling, particularly electronic gambling machines (EGMs) that were set to zero. The effects [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic, with the consequent lockdown of about 3 months, can be viewed as an experimental model to observe the impact of the depletion of environmental factors that stimulate gambling, particularly electronic gambling machines (EGMs) that were set to zero. The effects of some structural characteristics of gambling activities that increase gambling behavior were studied among disordered gamblers in treatment in this unique scenario. In fact, studies investigating the effects of the lockdown on problem gamblers (PGs) under treatment are missing. The aims of this study were to analyze patients’ gambling behavior and craving during the lockdown and to conduct a comparison between gambling disorder (GD) symptoms at the beginning of the treatment and during lockdown. The study was conducted in Italy, the European country with the largest gambling market and the first to be affected by the virus. Data were collected through a semi-structured telephone interview conducted by healthcare professionals. Participants were 135 PGs under treatment (109 males, mean age = 50.07). Results showed that most PGs achieved a significant improvement in their quality of life, with less gambling behavior, GD symptoms, and lower craving. No shift toward online gambling and very limited shift towards other potential addictive and excessive behaviors occurred. The longer the treatment, the more monitoring is present and the better the results in terms of symptoms reduction. Individual and environmental characteristics during the lockdown favored the reduction in symptoms. Consideration for prevention and treatment are discussed. Full article
Article
Perspective of Internet Poker Players on Harm-Reduction Strategies: A Cross-Sectional Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(23), 9054; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17239054 - 04 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2453
Abstract
Background: Internet gambling may increase rates of gambling harm. This current study aimed to assess Internet poker players’ views on various harm-reduction (HR) strategies. It also examined differences in these views according to the games played (poker only vs. poker plus other gambling [...] Read more.
Background: Internet gambling may increase rates of gambling harm. This current study aimed to assess Internet poker players’ views on various harm-reduction (HR) strategies. It also examined differences in these views according to the games played (poker only vs. poker plus other gambling activities), indebtedness, and problem gambling severity. Methods: Internet poker players (n = 311; 94.2% Male) recruited online between 2012 and 2014 were included in the analyses and completed a survey on indebtedness, problem gambling severity index, and ten statements regarding HR features. Results: Among the whole sample, the most frequently endorsed HR strategy was setting money limits, specialized online help, and peer support forums. People who play poker only (70%) are less prone to endorse the utility of information on excessive gambling and specialized healthcare centers. No differences were found between those people with debt versus those without regarding HR assessment. Participants with severe problem gambling were more skeptical about HR strategies based on information on specialized healthcare centers. Conclusion: Setting money limits, online help, and peer support forums are the most commonly endorsed strategies. Future research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of online harm reduction strategies. Full article

Review

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Review
A New Swiss Federal Act on Gambling: From Missed Opportunities towards a Public Health Approach?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6575; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126575 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1084
Abstract
In January 2019, a new Swiss Federal Act on Gambling (Loi federal de jeux d’argent: LJAr) entered into force following a vote by the Swiss electorate. Intended to modernize and harmonize previous law and open the market for online casinos; the new regulations [...] Read more.
In January 2019, a new Swiss Federal Act on Gambling (Loi federal de jeux d’argent: LJAr) entered into force following a vote by the Swiss electorate. Intended to modernize and harmonize previous law and open the market for online casinos; the new regulations have highlighted the need for a comprehensive monitoring system. The present article outlines work undertaken by experts within the field to identify and elaborate the first steps towards developing such a monitoring system. This work includes the mapping of institutional actors and draft conceptualization of an impact model, including structural (i.e., prevention and intervention-based components), process (means), and outcomes (effect) indicators. Initial estimations of effective access to indicators and their perceived priority for data gathering are also described. Subsequent steps necessary for implementation of this public health approach for gambling are considered including grey areas for future action. Full article
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Review
The Evolution of Gambling-Related Harm Measurement: Lessons from the Last Decade
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4395; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094395 - 21 Apr 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1830
Abstract
Jurisdictions around the world have a self-declared mandate to reduce gambling-related harm. However, historically, this concept has suffered from poor conceptualisation and operationalisation. However, recent years have seen swift advances in measuring gambling harm, based on the principle of it being a quantifiable [...] Read more.
Jurisdictions around the world have a self-declared mandate to reduce gambling-related harm. However, historically, this concept has suffered from poor conceptualisation and operationalisation. However, recent years have seen swift advances in measuring gambling harm, based on the principle of it being a quantifiable decrement to the health and wellbeing of the gambler and those connected to them. This review takes stock of the background and recent developments in harm assessment and summarises recent research that has validated and applied the Short Gambling Harms Screen and related instruments. We recommend that future work builds upon the considerable psychometric evidence accumulated for the feasibility of direct elicitation of harmful consequences. We also advocate for grounding harms measures with respect to scalar changes to public health utility metrics. Such an approach will avoid misleading pseudo-clinical categorisations, provide accurate population-level summaries of where the burden of harm is carried, and serve to integrate gambling research with the broader field of public health. Full article

Other

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Viewpoint
Response to the Regulation of Video Games under the Youth Media Protection Act: A Public Health Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(15), 9320; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19159320 - 29 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1246
Abstract
The Swiss Youth and Media Act, which is about to enter into force, is an attempt to provide a legislative framework for video game use. Among other inclusions, the law intends to make providers more accountable by taking measures to protect minors from [...] Read more.
The Swiss Youth and Media Act, which is about to enter into force, is an attempt to provide a legislative framework for video game use. Among other inclusions, the law intends to make providers more accountable by taking measures to protect minors from harm that can be caused by improper use of video games. However, it is a challenge to create a legal framework that can adequately regulate the evolving features of video games. Legislators must find a suitable regulatory approach which takes into account the fact that there is an increasing convergence between video games and gambling, particularly with the introduction of loot boxes. Moreover, there is a need for regulation, including the prohibition of misleading designs, the introduction of additional protection for minors, and the assurance of transparency of transactions. Appropriate policy legislation and consumer-protection measures are needed to protect people using these types of products, particularly children and adolescents. Further work should focus on assessing game characteristics to refine regulatory models to promote safe gaming. Based on experiences from the field of psychoactive substances as well as that of gambling, it is now a matter of developing a matrix of harm with elaborated categories: a tool that makes it possible to evaluate the potential harms of certain game design in an evidence-based manner. Full article

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Gamblers’ perceptions of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their gambling behaviours: Analysis of free-text responses collected through a cross-sectional online survey
Authors: Marianne Renard, Sophie Audette-Chapdelaine, Annie-Claude Savard, Sylvia Kairouz, Magaly Brodeur
Affiliation: Université du Québec à Montréal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), Université de Sherbrooke (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada), Université Laval (Quebec, Quebec, Canada), Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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