Study Finds Motivations Differ for Instant Lottery, Casino Gamblers

According to a recent study, casino players tend to have different reasons for gambling than those who buy instant lottery tickets. That’s important because other research has shown that some motivations indicate a higher risk of developing a problem than others.

In particular, gambling as a coping mechanism or to escape from stress is a red flag.

The research, undertaken by a trio from the social and human sciences department at Italy’s University of Aosta Valley, shows that slots and casino players are more likely to be using gambling as a crutch. The team compared the motivations behind 425 individuals who partook in some combination of scratch card, slot machine, and casino gambling. The analysis found that players of each game type exhibited differences in the particular emotions driving their play.

That said, the results indicate that, regardless of game type, emotional regulation may be part of people’s choice to gamble.

Gamblers Driven by Thrill of the Game

As the researchers point out, “gambling” is a catch-all phrase referring to many game types. While some gambling requires skill (like card games), others involve pure luck (lottery, slots).

Despite those inherent differences, the researchers note that few studies have investigated the motivations driving different game choices.

In light of that, they set out to “observe the relations between gambling motivations, emotions felt while gambling, and types of gambling.” Their location, in Valle d’Aosta, was a prime location for the researchers to undertake the study. The town hosts one of Italy’s few land-based casinos.

To narrow the assessment, they focused on three game types:

  • Slot machines (found in salons, pubs, and cafes)
  • Traditional casino gaming
  • Instant scratch cards (like lottery but more widespread)

Notably, the research showed that all players reported positive emotions or the “thrill of the game,” as their strongest drivers. In the research community, these feelings are usually categorized as an “enhancement” motivation. Enhancement was particularly prominent as a driver for men and those experiencing problem gambling.

Slots, Casinos Provide Added Escape

However, motivations diverged when considering coping or social drivers, with scratch gamblers showing less of both than slot or casino gamblers. Social motivations are typically the least problematic of reasons to gamble while coping is typically the most problematic.

Additionally, scratch players reported fewer negative emotions associated with their gambling than the other groups.

In contrast, the researchers found pathological or problem gamblers had a more intense connection with their chosen game across all measures.

Interestingly, previous studies have shown that using gambling as a distraction from reality has a higher association with problem gambling than other motivations. And typically, gambling addiction is associated more with men than women.

Logically, if lottery or scratch players are less driven by escape, this may help explain why we typically view those games as less harmful.

However, as with most things, the situation is undoubtedly more complex.

Other factors, like a player’s individual characteristics and the frequency, intensity, and duration of a typical gaming session, likely affect each game’s harm potential.

Only with further research will we better understand how motivation impacts individual gambling choices and the potential for harm.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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