Dr. Luke Clark
DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRE FOR GAMBLING RESEARCH
University of British Columbia
Dr. Luke Clark is the Director of the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC. His research focuses on the psychological and neural mechanisms that underlie gambling behaviour, and how these processes are altered in disordered gambling. Before moving to the Department of Psychology at UBC, he was a Senior Lecturer at University of Cambridge, U.K. He has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and serves on the editorial board for Addiction, International Gambling Studies, and the Journal of Gambling Studies.
Deconstructing the Modern Slot Machine: Psychological Ingredients and Personal Vulnerabilities
The dominant contemporary model of Gambling Disorder is of a ‘behavioural addiction’, underpinned by neurobiological factors (e.g. brain chemistry, genetics, personality) that render a subset of people at high risk for gambling problems. Research over the past decade has made considerable advances in describing these vulnerabilities, which overlap with known risk factors for substance addictions. However, this approach neglects the significant role played by the game itself: different forms of gambling are associated with differential risk of harm. In many jurisdictions including B.C., modern slot machines rank among the most harmful forms of gambling. At a psychological level, these are sophisticated and complex games. I will describe recent research identifying some of the key ingredients of modern slot machines, including their capacity for ‘immersion’, the impact of sensory feedback, and credit-based payment options. These ingredients each raise implications for ongoing responsible gambling practices. The next phase of research in this field will delineate how these ingredients interact with the personal vulnerabilities to disordered gambling.