NEW PAPER: Lucas Palmer et al, scoping review of monetary format in gambling

Congrats to Lucas who has his first publication in grad school, just out in International Gambling Studies: A scoping review of experimental manipulations examining the impact of monetary format on gambling behaviour.

In a nutshell: People can pay for gambling in many different ways: besides cash, some casino games use chips, online gambling uses cards, slot machines in Canada can take vouchers (called TITO). Does this matter? Is it ok if slot machines take a bank card or you can just swipe your phone? This question is also timely with societal shifts away from the use of cash & increasing gambling in the online space, post pandemic. We ran a systematic scoping review to identify studies that tested the impact of monetary format on gambling. Studies needed to use an experimental manipulation (in the lab or field) and participants had to be characterized for gambling (e.g. PGSI). We followed PRISMA guidelines but as a scoping review, we were specifically interested in mapping the available research that was out there, and understanding the different designs / pros and cons that had been taken to this question.

First finding: we only found 19 articles (23 individual expts) in total. These studies could be organized in 4 categories, although the largest group (over half) compared gambling for money against no money (e.g. just guessing) which as a design, has limited relevance to current discussions about cashless options. (To be clear, those 12 studies on gambling with / without money do include some methodologically strong papers that have also been influential in terms of gambling theory, and those studies do show consistently that money increases ‘excitement’ and on various different forms of gambling). We found 6 studies on the salience of money e.g. slot machines played with cash vs voucher. These studies found more mixed results, and none tested digital / card-based options. Two other small categories were testing Responsible Gambling tools e.g. different bill acceptors, and the effects of promotional inducements. Take-home message: there is limited research testing monetary formats on gambling, using controlled designs that would allow causal conclusions to guide policy. This may reflect methodological and ethical dilemmas around the use of endowed funds versus having research participants use their own funds, as well as more practical issues around conducting experimental designs in field research, especially using authentic gambling products and online.

Palmer L, Cringle N, Clark L. A scoping review of experimental manipulations examining the impact of monetary format on gambling behaviour. International Gambling Studies, 2022, doi: 10.1080/14459795.2022.2041067 Preprint at