Gambling on smartphones: A study of a potentially addictive behaviour in a naturalistic setting

Richard James, Claire O'Malley, Richard Tunney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Smartphone users engage extensively with their devices, on an intermittent basis for short periods of time. These patterns of behaviour have the potential to make mobile gambling especially perseverative. This paper reports the first empirical study of mobile gambling in which a simulated gambling app was used to measure gambling behaviour in phases of acquisition and extinction. We found that participants showed considerable perseverance in the face of continued losses that were linearly related to their prior engagement with the app. Latencies between gambles were associated with the magnitude of reinforcement; more positive outcomes were associated with longer breaks between play and a greater propensity to end a gambling session. Greater latencies were associated with measurements of problem gambling, and perseverance with gambling-related cognitions and sensation-seeking behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-40
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Addiction Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Author(s). This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International License (CC BY) (
Open Access License). Usage, derivative works and distribution are
permitted provided that proper credit is given to the author and the
original publisher.


  • Addiction
  • App
  • Behaviour
  • Gambling
  • Mobile phone


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