VANCOUVER – It's no surprise that drinking and gambling can be a bad combination, but new research from the University of British Columbia is helping explain why.

One reason, according to a study from the university's Centre for Gambling Research, is that people are apparently more likely to "chase losses" when they've been boozing.

Lead author Luke Clark said the team separated the study's participants into two groups, giving one enough vodka cocktails to reach a state of mild intoxication while serving the other placebo drinks.

The test subjects were then asked to play computerized roulette. The results, as one might expect, did not bode well for gambling under the influence.

"The clearest effect of alcohol in this study was that participants placed higher bets after losses compared to after wins," Clark told CTV News. "Participants in our placebo group didn't show any difference there."

Chasing losses is a risky proposition under the best of circumstances, Clark said, since the odds in every game favour the casino over the player.

But casinos are at least supposed to train staff to recognize drunk players who are "exhibiting problem gambling behaviour." Clark said his research findings are particularly troubling given that people now have multiple ways to gamble in their own homes as well.

"With the rise in online gambling and smartphone gambling, I think it's important that the public are aware of the risks of alcohol use when they're gaming," Clark told CTV News.

The team also looked at whether drinking had an effect on different kinds of irrational gambling behaviour, such as expecting patterns from randomized roulette numbers.

Clark said roulette players often see a run of red numbers and then expect a black one will be next, which is known as a "sequential bias" or a "gambler's fallacy."

Interestingly, the study did not find drinking had much of an effect on those behaviours either way.