Role Reversal: The Influence of Slot Machine Gambling on Subsequent Alcohol Consumption

  • Juliette Tobias-Webb
  • Rebecca L. Griggs
  • Nataly Kaufman
  • Luke ClarkEmail author
Original Paper


Experimental studies examining the relationship between alcohol use and gambling have focused predominantly on alcohol’s influence on gambling behavior. There has been little consideration of the reverse pathway: whether gambling influences subsequent alcohol use. Two experiments examined whether gambling and gambling outcomes (i.e. profits during a gambling session) influenced subsequent alcohol consumption. Experiment 1 (n = 53) used an ad libitum consumption test, in which participants could request beverages during a 30 min window. Experiment 2 (n = 29) used a beer taste test procedure, in which participants were asked to rate a series of beers. In both studies, male regular gamblers were assigned to watch a television show or play a modern slot machine for 30 min, before being provided with access to alcohol. On the ad libitum procedure, gambling significantly increased the number of alcoholic drinks ordered, the volume of alcohol consumed, the participants’ speed of drinking, and their intention to drink alcohol. These effects were not corroborated using the taste test procedure. Across both studies, gambling outcomes were not associated with alcohol consumption. In conjunction with prior findings, the observation that gambling can promote alcohol consumption under certain conditions highlights a possible feedback loop whereby gambling and alcohol reinforce one another. However, the divergent results between the ad libitum and taste test experiments point to boundary conditions for the effect and raise methodological considerations for future work measuring alcohol consumption in gambling environments.


Alcohol Gambling Slot machines Electronic gaming machines Ad libitum Taste test 



This study was funded by the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC, which is supported by the Province of British Columbia government and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation. JTW was funded by a Cambridge Australia Poynton Scholarship from the University of Cambridge. RLG received a grant from the Experimental Psychology Society to facilitate a study visit to the University of British Columbia. LC receives funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada) (RGPIN-2017-04069).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

LC is the Director of the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC, which is supported by the Province of British Columbia government and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). The BCLC is a Canadian Crown Corporation. The slot machines used in the present study were provided to the Centre by the BCLC. The Province of British Columbia government and BCLC had no further involvement in the research design, methodology, conduct, analysis or write-up of the study, and impose no constraints on publishing. LC has received a speaker honorarium from Svenska Spel (Sweden) and accepted travel/accommodation for speaking engagements from the National Center for Responsible Gaming (US) and National Association of Gambling Studies (Australia). He has not received any further direct or indirect payments from the gambling industry or groups substantially funded by gambling. He has received royalties from Cambridge Cognition Ltd. relating to the licensing of a neurocognitive test. The other authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by the University of British Columbia Behavioural Research Ethics Board (H14-02803). All procedures involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Gambling Research at UBC, Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.School of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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