About the Gambling Research Lab

We conduct research in both a lab environment and at casinos. The lab setting is discussed in more detail below. Running experiments in casinos allows us to interact with more people who are frequent gamblers in the environment in which they gamble.  A side benefit is that we are able to test more participants in a shorter period of time.

Our research area consists of several rooms and a variety of equipment for conducting research.  Our main focus is studying slot machines, and the features that make them addictive.  However, we also look at other forms of gambling, such as poker and horse race betting.

For our studies we measure participant responses in a variety of ways.  Some of the most common measurements we take include:

  • heart rate
  • skin conductance response (formerly known as galvanic skin response)
  • eye movement
  • force (how hard a player presses on a spin button)
  • participant response time
  • subjective measures such as questions and surveys

Within the main lab itself (Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology building (PAS) room 1101) we have two rooms for conducting studies.  These rooms contain actual slot machines.  We currently have eight slot machines.  These machines are valuable for research as participants can play a game that can actually be found in casinos.  Having the actual machines also allows us to better understand how the machines work.

In addition to the rooms with actual slot machines, we also have rooms elsewhere in the PAS building for running studies using slot machine simulators. The simulators allow us to have more control of the game, which can be very useful for studies. The simulators are programmed to run in the same manner as slot machines in Ontario and elsewhere. Using the simulators, we are  able to modify a player’s experience through changes in both the visual and auditory experience.

For more information about our research, please use the links on our menu.