Alcohol's effects on video lottery terminal (VLT) play among probable pathological and non-pathological gamblers

Michael Ellery, Sherry H Stewart, Pamela Loba
Journal of Gambling Studies 2005, 21 (3): 299-324
This study tested whether alcohol increases behaviors associated with video lottery terminal (VLT) play, particularly among probable pathological gamblers. Forty-four regular VLT players were designated either probable pathological gamblers or non-pathological gamblers on the basis of scores on the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS); [Lesieur & Blume (1997). American Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 1184-1188] Gamblers from each SOGS category were randomly assigned to either a moderately intoxicating alcohol dose or a control beverage condition (n = 11 per cell in the 2 x 2 between-subjects design). Following beverage consumption and absorption, participants played a video poker VLT game for up to 30 minutes. Four behaviors were measured: "power-bets" (doubling bet after viewing only two cards of the five-card poker hand); total money spent; mean bet magnitude; and number of minutes played. Alcohol increased time spent playing and rate of power-bets, particular among the probable pathological gamblers. Post hoc analyses revealed that alcohol also influenced the proportion of losing hands played--increasing them among the probable pathological gamblers while decreasing them among the non-pathological gamblers. Clinical and policy implications of the findings are discussed.

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