Exploring the Impact of Gambling Advertising: An Interview Study of Problem Gamblers

  • Per BindeEmail author


This study qualitatively explored the impact of gambling advertising on problem gambling by interviewing twenty-five people with current or past gambling problems. Interviews were relatively long and involved the participants’ viewing numerous examples of gambling advertising. A quarter of the participants reported that gambling advertising had no impact on their problems, slightly over half of them reported that advertising had a marginal impact, and one fifth reported a tangible impact. However, none considered advertising to be a main cause of their gambling problems. The negative self-perceived impact was primarily that advertising triggered impulses to gamble. Advertising thus increased already high involvement in gambling and/or made it harder to stick to a decision to gamble less or not at all.


Problem gambling Advertising Media Addiction Conditioning 



This research has been funded by the Swedish National Institute of Public Health. Some of the arguments have appeared in Swedish in the report Spelreklam och spelberoende: En intervjustudie (Binde 2007b). The paper was presented at the European Association for the Study of Gambling (EASG) conference in Nova Gorizia, Slovenia, 1–4 July 2008. I am thankful for comments received on that occasion.


  1. American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  2. Amey, B. (2001). People’s participation in and attitudes to gaming, 1985–2000: Final results of the 2000 survey. Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs.Google Scholar
  3. Binde, P. (2005). Att sälja en dröm: Om spelreklam och dess påverkan. Stockholm: Statens folkhälsoinstitut.Google Scholar
  4. Binde, P. (2007a). Selling dreams—causing nightmares? On gambling advertising and problem gambling. Journal of Gambling Issues, 20, 167–192.Google Scholar
  5. Binde, P. (2007b). Spelreklam och spelberoende: En intervjustudie. Östersund: Statens folkhälsoinstitut.Google Scholar
  6. Bonke, J. (2007). Ludomani i Danmark II: Faktorer af betydning for spilleproblemer. København: Socialforskningsinstituttet.Google Scholar
  7. Boughton, R., Brewster, J. M. (2002). Voices of women who gamble in Ontario: A survey of women’s gambling, barriers to treatment and treatment service needs. Retrieved October 12, 2008, from
  8. Brown, R. I. F. (1988). Models of gambling and gambling addictions as perceptual filters. Journal of Gambling Behavior, 3(4), 224–236. doi: 10.1007/BF01019882.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carlson, M. J., & Moore, T. L. (1998). Adolescent gambling in Oregon: A report to the Oregon Gambling Addiction Treatment Foundation. Salem, ON: Oregon Gambling Addiction Treatment Foundation.Google Scholar
  10. Clotfelter, C. T., & Cook, P. J. (1989). Selling hope: State lotteries in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Crockford, D. N., Goodyear, B., Edwards, J., Quickfall, J., & el-Guebaly, N. (2005). Cue-induced brain activity in pathological gamblers. Biological Psychiatry, 58(10), 787–795. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.04.037.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Drummond, D. C., & Glautier, S. (1994). A controlled trial of cue exposure treatment in alcohol dependence. Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology, 62(4), 809–817. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.62.4.809.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Gambling Impact and Behavior Study (1999). Report to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  14. Gehring, V. V. (1999). The American state lottery: Sale or swindle? International Journal of Applied Philosolophy, 13(2).Google Scholar
  15. Goudriaan, A. E., Oosterlaan, J., de Beurs, E., & Van den Brink, W. (2004). Pathological gambling: A comprehensive review of biobehavioral findings. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 28(2), 123–141. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2004.03.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grant, J. E., & Kim, S. W. (2001). Demographic and clinical features of 131 adult pathological gamblers. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62(12), 957–962.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Griffiths, M. D. (2005). Does gambling advertising contribute to problem gambling? International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 3(2), 15–25.Google Scholar
  18. Haracz, J. L., Mash, D. C., & Sircar, R. (1999). A multicomponent learning model of drug abuse: Drug taking and craving may involve separate brain circuits underlying instrumental and classical conditioning, respectively. Annals of New York Academy of Sciences, 877, 811–819. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1999.tb09329.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heath, R. (2000). Low involvement processinga new model of brands and advertising. International Journal of Advertising, 19(3), 287–298.Google Scholar
  20. Heath, R., Brandt, D., & Nairn, A. (2006). Brand relationships: Strengthened by emotion, weakened by attention. Journal of Advertising Ressearch, 46(4), 410–419. doi: 10.2501/S002184990606048X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jones, M. J. (2001). Odds should improve for lottery advertising guidelines. Gaming Law Review, 5(3), 161–163. doi: 10.1089/10921880152486843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jonsson, J., Andrén, A., Nilsson, T., Svensson, O., Munck, I., Kindstedt, A., et al. (2003). Spelberoende i Sverige—vad kännetecknar personer med spelproblem? Rapport om andra fasen av den svenska nationella studien av spel och spelberoende. Stockholm: Statens folkhälsoinstitut.Google Scholar
  23. Korn, D., Hurson, T., & Reynolds, J. (2003). Commercial gambling advertising: Possible impact on youth knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behavioural intentions. Guelph: Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre. Retrieved October 12, 2008, from: Scholar
  24. Lee, H.-S., Lee Lemanski, J., & Jun, J. W. (2008). Role of gambling media exposure in influencing trajectories among college students. Journal of Gambling Studies, 24(1), 25–37. doi: 10.1007/s10899-007-9078-0.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Lesieur, H. R., & Blume, S. B. (1987). The South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS): A new instrument for the identification of pathological gamblers. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144(9), 1184–1188.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Lund, I. (2008). The population mean and the proportion of frequent gamblers: Is the theory of total consumption valid for gambling? Journal of Gambling Studies, 24(2), 247–256. doi: 10.1007/s10899-007-9081-5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Miller, R., & Mizerski, R. (1998). Investigating the relationship between ad recall, affect toward the producer and the purchase of three number lotto tickets (work in progress). Paper presented at the ANZMAC98 Conference, Otago, New Zealand, November 30–December 2, 1998. Retreived October 12, 2008, from:
  28. Oakes, J., Battersby, M. W., Pols, R. G., & Cromarty, P. (2008). Exposure therapy for problem gambling via videoconferencing: A case report. Journal of Gambling Studies, 24(1), 107–118. doi: 10.1007/s10899-007-9074-4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Potenza, M. N., Steinberg, M. A., Skudlarski, P., Fulbright, R. K., Lacadie, C. M., Wilber, M. K., et al. (2003). Gambling urges in pathological gambling. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60(8), 828–836. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.60.8.828.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Poulin, C. (2006). Gambling. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 175(10), 1208–1209. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.061299.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Rönnberg, S., Volberg, R. A., Abbott, M. W., Moore, W. L., Andrén, A., Munck, I., et al. (1999). Gambling and problem gambling in Sweden. Stockholm: Statens folkhälsoinstitut.Google Scholar
  32. Shenk, J. W. (1995). Everyone’s a loser: How lottery ads entice the wrong people to gamble. The Washington Monthly, 27(7/8), 22–25.Google Scholar
  33. Stranahan, H., & O’Malley Borg, M. (1998). Horizontal equity implications of the lottery tax. National Tax Journal, 51(1), 71–82.Google Scholar
  34. Symes, B. A., & Nicki, R. M. (1997). A preliminary consideration of cue-exposure, response-prevention treatment for pathological gambling behaviour: Two case studies. Journal of Gambling Studies, 13(2), 145–157. doi: 10.1023/A:1024951301959.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Tavares, H., Zilberman, M. L., Hodgins, D. C., & el-Guebaly, N. (2005). Comparison of craving between pathological gamblers and alcoholics. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 29(8), 1427–1431. doi: 10.1097/01.alc.0000175071.22872.98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Public Sector Research (CEFOS)University of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

Personalised recommendations