The Psychology of Mobile Gambling

mobile gambling game

Mobile gambling is the act of placing bets or playing casino games via a mobile device. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, as smartphone technology improves and internet connectivity becomes more widespread. It is estimated that over half of all online gamblers use a mobile device to place bets or play games. Several companies are now offering wireless betting services for sporting events, horse races and casino games, such as blackjack and video poker. The latest mobile devices, such as the iPhone and Android phones, are well suited to mobile gambling, with their touch screens and high-speed processors. These phones also have built-in GPS, which can track a player’s location and activity. This can be used to send contextual information about the user’s behaviour, for example when they are engaging in a particular type of gambling.

Unlike traditional gambling, which relies on physical and visual cues to motivate people to make bets, mobile gambling relies on the user’s psychological motivation to gamble. This can be a problem, as it may cause people to gamble more than they could afford to lose, or even lose more money than they have. In order to mitigate this risk, mobile gambling developers must understand what drives a person’s desire to gamble and design their games to minimize the possibility of gambling addiction.

The newest mobile phones have a range of sensors that can be used to personalize the gambling experience in a way that is distinct from other online gaming environments. However, the graphical and processing limitations of these devices meant that this potential was not realized until recently.

In the present study, participants interacted with a simulated gambling app on their smartphones. The simulated game involved a fixed rate of reinforcement on a random ratio schedule and multiple levels of reward. During the experiment, contextual data such as location and other app usage were collected and behavioural data such as the frequency of gambling and the latencies between gambles was recorded using the phone’s GPS. This was done with the consent of each participant, who were informed that they could change their settings on their phone to prevent this data being recorded if they did not want it to be.

The resulting data suggest that mobile phone games engender a similar pattern of behaviour to other gambling environments and that the simulated game has the potential to be used in future research to measure and characterize addictive behaviour. This type of translational research in gambling is highly valuable, as most existing studies have relied on self-report data or on markers of harm that are contrived or inappropriately translated from other addictions. The results also highlight the potential for mobile apps to be used in the investigation of gambling addiction, building on the extensive behavioural and cognitive gambling research conducted in the laboratory. This is especially important given the recent increase in prevalence of gambling disorders in the real world and the need for research to be able to identify the characteristics of harmful and beneficial gambling behaviours.