Although most gamblers set limits on their gambling and stick to them most of the time, there are times when limits are breached (a ‘bust’). Little is known about the prevalence, reasons for and strategies to address busts despite associated harms with a single bust. This mixed methods study used an online survey with a sample of electronic gaming machine gamblers. A total of 104 gamblers were recruited from 11 Australian gambling venues and almost half (45%) reported a bust in the past 12 months. The amount of money spent on the bust ranged from $20 to $1500 AUD (M = $446, SD = $402). The presence of a bust was positively associated with the amount of money spent in the past 30 days, and self-reported greater gambling related harms and greater gambling severity. Reasons for busts included both distal (pre-venue) factors (i.e., negative affect, lapse in intentions to set a limit, needing to win money) and proximal (inside venue) factors (i.e., chasing losses, wins or spins, social facilitation and losing money too quickly). Bust-prevention strategies identified by participants were both distal (e.g., avoid gambling altogether, leave cards or cash at home, set a time or money limit) and proximal (e.g., walk away when losing and change the manner of gambling). As busts are relative to a priori limits, gamblers at any level of gambling severity can experience a bust. Repeated busts may be an indicator of loss of control and a progression towards problem gambling. Interventions need to focus on factors that mitigate the risk of a bust (e.g., pre-commitment) and that assist gamblers to stick to their limits all of the time.
- Change strategies
- Limit setting