An experimental study of the effect of prior alcohol consumption on a simulated gambling activity


  • Andrew Kyngdon,

  • Mark Dickerson


Previous survey research with both clinical populations and random samples of the general population has established that individuals may experience harmful impacts arising from both their gambling and their consumption of alcohol. Experimental study of the interaction of alcohol consumption on gambling is notable for its absence from the literature. Aim. To experimentally study the interaction of alcohol consumption and gambling behaviour. Design. Participants were randomly allocated into two groups-placebo administered and alcohol administered, thus making an independent samples experimental design. Setting. Laboratory. Participants. Forty young, male, regular EGM players, who also regularly consumed alcohol. Measurements. The NEO Personality Inventory; The Scale of Gambling Choices (Revised) (SGC); persistence at gambling while losing, as measured by the number of gambling trials played and amount wagered. Findings. Subjects either received a prior intake of three alcoholic drinks each containing approximately 10 g of pure alcohol (beer or wine) or an equal volume of an equivalent non-alcoholic beverage. The alcohol group persisted for twice as many gaming trials as the placebo group with significantly more players who had consumed alcohol losing all their original cash stake (50% compared with 15% of the placebo group). Conclusions. The consumption of alcohol appeared to eliminate the strong associations found in placebo group between individual difference measures and persistence. The analogue game was accepted by participants as a valid form of gambling. The result showed that relatively small quantities of alcohol have a significant effect on the psychological processes that underpin self-control over gambling. This finding challenges the conceptual research paradigm of studying co-morbidity or dual-addicted clinical populations as the most appropriate method of understanding how two addictive behaviours interact.