5. On gambling and universality…
• Gambling is commonly thought of as a
“historical and cultural universal” – all
places, periods, and peoples.
• But as Per Binde (2005) has shown us:
6. On gambling research and universality… a
• UBC’s Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan’s recent salvo in Nature
– a major challenge to psychology, economics, and indeed, to all
• 96% of psychology publications represent 12% of the world’s
• 2/3 of US psychology research: on American undergraduate
students (“some of the most psychologically unusual people on
• This is, in a word, “WEIRD”…
8. Henrich, et al’s challenge:
• Is everything we learned in Psychology 101 wrong?!
• For example, the Fundamental Attribution Error – a
“universal,” except for…
– “And yet, much of cognitive psychology emphasizes the
centrality” of FAE
• Ellen Langer and Endowment Theory
• So Americans, Canadians, Aussies, and Western Europeans are
WEIRD – and use very different analytical strategies (and perhaps
gambling analytical strategies?) than non-Westerners
• Uh-oh: as we might predict, the vast majority of problem
– In the past five years, there have been 378 peer-reviewed problem
gambling studies in the literature.
– Of these, only 15 (4%) include non-Western research subjects in the
subject pool (96% Western subjects)
– The “96% number” for the PG literature: 14% of the world’s population
(psychology overall: 12%)
10. Culture matters
• … the perils of global culture are familiar to those
who study the gaming industry.
• MGM Not-so-grand Opening, 1994:
11. You can’t even trust your
• Singapore and uncritically “exporting” the Las
• South Korea and uncritically “exporting” the
manner in which social costs are handled
• Russia and gambling “drawings”
12. In this spirit…
• Let’s take a quick look around the gambling globe –
for a few case studies of problem gambling, and how
it is “treated” at a macro level in various gaming
• Australia likely stands alone as the global gaming jurisdiction
where gambling is the most controversial – and perhaps most
“endangered” as a species.
• Never before, however, has the gaming industry faced a
challenge quite like it faces right now, as culture and politics
clash: in its parliament, several staunchly anti-gambling
activists hold key positions of power, and have used their
positions strategically in order to have the PG issue heard.
– Things have calmed down, for now…
– However, you know an issue has “arrived” when it hits the pop
14. The China/Macao nexus
• In the world’s most dynamic and rapidly-
growing gaming industry, the problem
gambling issue seems to be gathering
momentum (even when it’s not labeled
– Visa restrictions and PG
– Often portrayed in media as a “corruption”
issue among businesspeople, rather than a
psychological or health issue.
• But this is changing: recent regulatory requirements
address RG in new ways
– Excessive gambling as a moral-
– Those who gamble “too much”
are dealt with harshly and
• Religious bans on gambling
• Punishment: public caning
• Gender issues
• (Meanwhile, Singapore takes
• Similarly harsh history of dealing with “gambling too much”!
• On July 1, 2009, Russia went from massive levels of gambling
availability nationwide to four remote “gambling zones” (none
of which have really been developed yet).
• Why did Russia decide to do this? Media content analysis
(Vasiliev and Bernhard, 2011)
– 1) “Two degrees of separation” problem gambling issues: Impacts
on the family, workplace, youth
– 2) Mafia influence
• Finally “clean up the industry”
• A new socio-economic model – and not just across Asia.
• It is important to remember how this all began: the
Singaporean government required that all applicants for
its two gaming licenses submit highly detailed and
rigorous plans for the management of “social
– Without these safeguards, it was likely that gaming never
would have been legalized.
– As such, the “Singapore third way” approach to legalization
path – legalization PLUS safeguards -- now has legitimacy and
18. South Korea
• The world’s most fascinating gambling laboratory?
• Domestic gambling bans -- except at Kangwon Land
– Domestic restrictions: 15 days/month
– County restrictions: 1 day/month
– A problem gambling treatment center in the parking lot.
• An interesting blend: monopoly profits paired with some
of the most aggressive on-site PG programs in the world
• Now that gambling is truly global, we can benefit
from careful study of successes and failures
elsewhere in the gambling universe.
• Each country and culture has its own unique
relationship with the gambling act.
• We no longer can talk about “gambling” or “the
gaming industry” as if it were one, singular thing.
• This is especially true given where gambling is
“headed” … (Everywhere! All at once!)
22. So what might we do?
• In 2013, neglecting the vital construct
of generalizability is especially sinful.
– Recommendation? Go. Go. Go.
– Global literacy: more important than ever
– In our field: A new “Vancouver Model?”
– The diversity of one’s N becomes even
more crucial – let’s do this together?
23. So what might we do, part two?
• The “bio-psycho-social” model – meant to imply a
comprehensive approach – in fact stops too short.
• This is especially true when cross-disciplinary, and cross-
cultural thinking is a “now more than ever” requirement.
• A bio-psycho-social-sociological-economic model?
– And why stop there?
– Again, let’s do this together?