Scientists used a casino designed for rats to test medication intended to reduce problem gambling behavior. The experiments carried out at the University of British Columbia are the first to show that problem gambling behaviors can be treated with drugs.
The “rat casino” used a slot machine device, with flashing lights, and two levers the rats could operate with their paws. The prizes were sugar pellets. According to the research, the rats exhibited some typical problem gambling behaviors and following treatment with a dopamine D4 receptor-blocking medication, the problem behaviors were reduced.
Lead author of the study, Paul Cocker, is researching a PhD in Psychology. He said: “This study sheds important new light on the brain processes involved with gambling and gambling addictions.”
As the authors point out more research is needed before drugs will be available for people. If such drugs were developed and proved to be effective, the impact on the gambling industry and its regulators would be startling.