October 30, 2018 8:47 pm

New UBC research suggests flashing casino lights promote problem gambling

WATCH: New evidence from UBC researchers suggests that blinking casino lights and flashy jingles may encourage risky decision making and potentially promote problem gambling behaviour. Linda Aylesworth reports.

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According to a study out of the University of British Columbia, those bright flashing lights and loud tunes that assault the senses in gambling halls play an important role in a casino’s success.

Researcher Mariya Cherkasova created a video game that offered some of the 131 study participants a quiet gambling experience. Others played a version with all the bells and whistles.

READ MORE: New research centre tackling gambling opens at UBC


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Those who played the stimulating version were significantly more inclined to take risks. They preferred the high risk and potentially high reward options that ultimately resulted in their winning less money.

Using eye-tracking technology, they found that people were much more restrained when there were no audio or visual distractions.

READ MORE: UBC study shows flashing lights and music turn rats into problem gamblers

Prof. Catharine Winstanley in UBC’s Psychology Department says they have already received funding to scan the brains of participants while they are gambling to see what brain chemicals and brain regions are involved in the behaviour.

They hope to learn if and how some people are more susceptible to such stimuli than others and come up with treatments to stop problem gambling behaviour.

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