The advent of mobile devices has opened the door to a new gambling industry. While conventional casinos offer a variety of casino games, some developers are releasing standalone apps that replicate the gambling experience on a smartphone. These apps are designed to meet the specific needs of users. They are also convenient and easy to use. However, they are not without their risks. Some people can become addicted to these apps, especially when they are used in conjunction with real money.
Gambling apps are gaining popularity among gamblers, as they can be used anytime and anywhere. They offer a convenient and safe way to play, which is especially useful for people who do not have access to a casino or betting terminals. Many of these apps are designed to mimic the experience of playing a casino game or a slot machine, and they can also be used to place bets on live sporting events. Moreover, they are also easy to download and install on any device.
While many video games have introduced premium features that allow players to pay a small amount of credit for chances to win in-game prizes, these types of games are not regulated the same way as traditional gambling. There are no state-level laws prohibiting them, and they are not subject to the same rigorous outside testing as slot machines are.
Although a significant proportion of mobile gambling app users report using these apps to gamble, there is little research that examines the relationship between mobile gambling and addiction. Most existing studies use self-reports or markers of addictive behaviour that are not specifically associated with gambling. However, the nature of smartphone use and the way that reinforcement and latency are fine-tuned by designers make mobile apps potentially more vulnerable to addictive behavioural patterns than other forms of technology.
A recent study conducted in a laboratory setting used a simulated gambling game on a smartphone to test the relationship between mobile phone use and gambling behaviour. Participants were engaged with the app for short periods of time, interspersed with breaks of varying duration. This type of intermittent interaction is known to promote perseverative behaviour. The study found that engagement with the app while there was a chance of winning predicted perseverative behaviour during an extinction phase when it was no longer possible to win. Furthermore, the size of rewards was predictive of latencies between gambles and a propensity to prematurely end a gambling session.
The study included a series of questionnaires and a computerised contingency judgement task that probed the illusion of control, a cognitive bias in gambling. In addition, behavioural and location data were collected from each participant throughout the experiment. This research provides important insights into the development of a mobile gambling app, and it highlights the importance of incorporating contextual cues and behavioural monitoring when designing these kinds of apps. It also points to the need for further research in this area, particularly with respect to gambling apps that incorporate random ratio schedules of reinforcement.