One of the primary challenges in studying gambling (and problem gambling) behavior is the fact that $1 does not hold the same value to all gamblers due to varying levels of income, risk tolerance, and other factors.
To better understand the gambling behaviors of a group, we need to first attempt to create a standard metric or series of metrics that can be used for evaluation.
NOTE: This seems so obvious and it might already be in use. If it is, please let me know.
CREATING A STANDARDIZED UNIT
One idea for creating a standardized unit of measurement is to begin with the hourly income rate of the individual. This amount would then be converted to our STANDARDIZED UNIT (SU) where HOURLY INCOME RATE = 1 SU.
By using SU, we can then begin to conduct deeper research into gambling behavior with a metric that flexes as income level changes from participant to participant.
Pat makes $10 per hour. For Pat, 1 SU = $10. On a typical visit, Pat brings $80 (8 SU) to the casino.
Jordan makes $80 per hour. For Jordan, 1 SU = $80. On a typical visit, Jordan bring $200 (2.5 SU) to the casino.
Joe makes $25 per hour. For Joe, 1 SU = $25. During one session, Joe won $5000 (200 SU).
Sally makes $400 per hour. For Sally, 1 SU = $400. The most Sally has ever lost in a session is $200 (.5 SU).
Stan makes $300 per hour. For Stan, 1 SU = $300. On a typical visit, Stan plays $100 per spin (.33 SU) slot machines.
Quinn makes $12 per hour. For Quinn, 1 SU = $12. On a typical visit, Quinn plays $10 per spin (.83 SU) slot machines.
As you can see in the examples above, we can begin to better understand the behaviors of the individual compare to others across very different income levels. This should help us to gain even more insight into gambling behaviors to better understand warning signs and to help identify problem gambling earlier.