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Gambling on smartphones: a study of a potentially addictive behaviour in a naturalistic setting

James, Richard J.E.; O 'Malley, Claire; Tunney, Richard J.


Claire O 'Malley

Richard J. Tunney


Smartphone users engage extensively with their devices, on an intermittent basis for short periods of time. These patterns of behaviour have the potential to make mobile gambling especially perseverative. This paper reports the first empirical study of mobile gambling in which a simulated gambling app was used to measure gambling behaviour in phases of acquisition and extinction. We found that participants showed considerable perseverance in the face of continued losses that were linearly related to their prior engagement with the app. Latencies between gambles were associated with the magnitude of reinforcement; more positive outcomes were associated with longer breaks between play and a greater propensity to end a gambling session. Greater latencies were associated with measurements of problem gambling, and perseverance with gambling-related cognitions and sensation-seeking behaviour.


James, R. J., O 'Malley, C., & Tunney, R. J. (2019). Gambling on smartphones: a study of a potentially addictive behaviour in a naturalistic setting. European Addiction Research, 25(1), 30-40.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 20, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 10, 2019
Publication Date Jan 10, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 4, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 29, 2019
Journal European Addiction Research
Print ISSN 1022-6877
Electronic ISSN 1421-9891
Publisher Karger Publishers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 30-40
Keywords Gambling; Addiction; Mobile phone; App; Behaviour
Public URL
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