Volberg co-authors publication on problem gambling in Sweden

University of Massachusetts Epidemiology faculty Rachel Volberg

Rachel Volberg

September 25, 2017

Research Associate Professor of Epidemiology Rachel Volberg is co-author of a recent report that examines problem gambling and addiction. In “Forms of gambling, gambling involvement, and problem gambling: evidence from a Swedish population survey” appearing in the current issue of the journal International Gambling Studies, Volberg and her co-authors examine four elements of problem gambling (PG): the type of game, frequency of gambling, the level of intensity (time and money spent) and the relationship between PG and the specific form of gambling.

Volberg and her co-authors, Per Binde and Ulla Romild, started their research by forming a baseline study of gambling behavior, surveying 4,991 Swedish inhabitants aged 16–84. Their study concludes some forms of gambling are more closely associated with PG than other forms, and that gambling policy and regulation, as well as the development of responsible gambling initiatives, should focus on these forms. This would mean continuous games with a high reward frequency, like electronic gaming machines, are more closely associated with PG than unengaging and slow games, such as weekly lotteries.

“Forms of gambling have a common core – the chance of winning something of greater value than the amount staked – but differ in terms of structural characteristics,” the authors write.

Volberg and her colleagues also studied gamblers’ intensity, meaning the amount of money and time spent on the activity. They concluded level of intensity better dictates PG than looking at the popularity of a specific game. Their study discovered over half of problem gamblers participated regularly in only one or two forms of gambling.

Volberg and her co-authors concluded that some forms of gambling are more closely associated with problem gambling than other forms, and that gambling policy and regulation, as well as the development of responsible gambling initiatives, should focus on these forms.

Their findings hold potential significance for the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) study, for which Volberg serves as Principal Investigator, ahead of the introduction of casing gambling in the state.