Behavioural Addiciton: Gambling in Las Vegas

A conference on gambling addiction, run by the National Center for Responsible Gaming, is to be held in Las Vegas later this year. Put aside the irony for a moment, there are more sinister events afoot.

Salon’s article Gambling with Science notes that the NCRG is funded by the gambling industry and may have a vested interest in directing research towards certain theories of addiction. Specifically that gambling addiction is not the fault of the casinos.

The industry has successfully defined the terms of gambling addiction; it’s telling that we speak about problem gamblers but not problem machines, problem environments, or problem business practices.

Mind Hacks’ in-depth round-up continues:

The piece is interesting because it shows the significant ambiguity and disagreement at the heart of gambling addiction, the ‘crown jewels’ of the behavioural addiction field.

This is important because there is an increasing drive to reframe existing disorders and medicalise problems of excess as addictions.

Because the legal system determines responsibility, it’s in the industry’s interest to promote theories which say that problem lies largely in the neurobiology of the individual, rather than in their business practices.