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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

A scoping investigation of eye-tracking in Electronic Gambling Machine (EGM) play

Rogers, Robert, Butler, Joe, Millard, Samantha, Cristino, Filipe, Davvit, Lina and Leek, Charles (2017) A scoping investigation of eye-tracking in Electronic Gambling Machine (EGM) play. Gamble Aware. pp. 1-41.

Item Type: Article


The nature of the association between Electronic Gambling Machines (EGMs) and gambling problems remains uncertain. Eye-tracking offers a potentially powerful method to understand how individuals attend to the visual displays and features of machine games as a function of machine experience, use of other commercial gambling products, the degree to which some game features capture players attention and, critically, vulnerability to problematic patterns of machine play. Characterizing machine players' attention to machine games may aid the design of harm-minimization measures such as, but not limited to, pop-up messages and visible clocks; and provide an important ancillary measure for testing their efficacy. Here, we conducted the first study to use eye-tracking to improve our understanding of how machine players attend to EGM displays in local bookmaker offices (LBOs) situated across North West England, as well as North East and North Wales. Through liaison with 4 bookmaker operators, we recruited a sample of 118 LBO customers who, first, completed a small number of questionnaires about their gambling history and other gambling activities and, then, completed a typical machine gambling session with their own money while wearing eye-tracking glasses to capture eye-movement pattern. The protocol captured regions of gaze fixation while playing (B2) roulette or (B3) slots on B category machines (Gambling Commission, 2012). The final dataset consisted of 91 eye-tracking recordings: 59 games of roulette and 57 slots games. Our principle dependent measure was the percentage of fixations of visual features and machine display locations (as areas of interest; AOIs) as an objective indicator of overt visual attention and their importance to machine players. Our data analysis included statistical correction for differences in the relative size (display area) and display duration across AOIs. To summarise, our main findings are as follows:  In roulette, 56.3% of LBO machine players fixations were distributed over the chip-placement area while placing bets (in the stationary states of the game), rising to 75.1% while the roulette wheel Eye-tracking & machines Rogers & Leek; main text v2; 24th March 2017 3 spun in the moving states of the games). Machine players looked at their credit balance 7.2% of the time while placing bets, only slightly more frequently than the previous winning number at 6.8%.  In slots games, the slot-reels dominated machine players' visual attention: accounting for 53.6% of fixations while placing bets, rising to 91.7% while spinning. Players' fixations of their credit-balances amounted to 14% of the total while placing bets but only 5.1% while the slot-reels spun.  Fixations away from the machine were more frequent while placing bets in both roulette and slots games: 13.5% and 13.4% respectively, dropping to 2.4% and 1.1% while the wheel/slot-reels spun.  Players' age and years of education were only weakly related to fixation patterns while playing roulette or slots games. Unemployed players allocated fewer fixations over the chip-placement area (both while the roulette wheel was stationary and while it spun) and over the slot-reels while placing bets; they also tended to look away from the machine more while placing bets in roulette.  Frequent machine players tended to look at the roulette wheel less frequently than infrequent users while playing roulette games; involvement in other forms of gambling tended to increase attention towards credit balance but was not otherwise linked to particular patterns of fixations.  Finally, problems gamblers allocated fewer fixations to the roulette wheel while placing bets and while it spun compared to non-problem gamblers; and tended to look away from the machine more frequently; in slots games, problem gamblers looked more frequently at amount-won messages. These data describe, for the first time, the distributions of machine players overt attention while navigating roulette and slots games in a commercial settings. In general, fixation counts showed the least variability for moving visual features and events that are likely to capture attention automatically, such as spinning Eye-tracking & machines Rogers & Leek; main text v2; 24th March 2017 4 roulette wheels or spinning slot-reels. However, fixations were also concentrated upon visual features and elements with relatively less attentional capture such as the chip-placement-area while placing bets in roulette and looking at credit balances in both games. Associations between patterns of fixation and both frequency of past-month expenditure on B category machines and broader gambling involvement were modest, suggesting that most of the variability in eye-movements and fixations reflects players navigation through the sequenced behaviours of placing bets and monitoring spinning roulette wheels or slot-reels in anticipation of game outcomes. Players with extensive machine experience tended to discount slightly the roulette wheel as a visual feature; while players with broader patterns of gambling activity looked at credit balances frequently, suggesting that such individuals are mindful of available credits. Players with gambling problems allocated fewer fixations over the chip-placement-area while placing bets and while watching the wheel spun compared to non-problem gamblers, suggesting that placing of bets can be accomplished with less attentional focus. These individuals were also more likely to look away from the machine altogether, suggesting that, in roulette play, gambling problems might be associated with a loosened attentional focus to events elsewhere in the shop. However, in slots games, problems gamblers' attended to the reward signals of previous games (amount-won) when placing the next bets. So far as we are aware, these data are the first to show that eye-tracking methodology has some potential to offer insights into machine-player interactions, and to provide a bias-free measure of individual differences in attention to games visual features and events as a function of their experience with gambling machines, gambling background and vulnerability to gambling-related harms. This study offers a methodology for studying and optimizing the timing, placement and content of harm-minimization messaging.

rgt_eye-tracking_machines_v3_24_03_17_final.pdf - Accepted Version

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Depositing User: Joe Butler


Item ID: 15625
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Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2023 10:23
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2023 10:00


Author: Robert Rogers
Author: Joe Butler
Author: Samantha Millard
Author: Filipe Cristino
Author: Lina Davvit
Author: Charles Leek

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing > School of Psychology


Psychology > Cognitive Behaviour
Psychology > Psychology

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