Are scratchcards addictive? The prevalence of pathological scratchcard gambling among adult scratchcard buyers in the Netherlands

Abstract

AIMS To determine the prevalence of regular, potential problematic and pathological scratchcard gambling (PSG) 5 years after the introduction of scratchcards in the Netherlands. DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS A non-proportional stratified random sample of 12 222 scratchcard buyers was approached. Regular scratchcard buyers (n = 3342) were asked to fill out the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS). Those with a SOGS score of 3 or more (n = 340) were interviewed with the gambling section of the DSM-IV Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS-T). Weighted data were used to obtain unbiased prevalence estimates. FINDINGS The estimated prevalence of regular and potential problematic scratchcard gambling were 28.4% and 2.68%, respectively. Only 0.24% met DSM-IV criteria for PSG. Of those, only 0.09% were addicted uniquely to scratchcards. The remaining 0.15% were also addicted to other games of chance. Demographic and gambling characteristics of these 'combined' PSG (young men, mainly slot-machine players) resembled characteristics of pathological gamblers in general. In contrast to these 'combined' PSG, 'unique' PSG were mainly women between 25 and 34 years who spent relatively small amounts of money on scratchcards (equivalent to one scratchcard a day). CONCLUSION Scratchcards have a very low addiction potential among adults in the Netherlands. Given the specific characteristics of the unique PSG and the relatively small amount of money they spent, the appropriateness of DSM criteria for this particular form of gambling can be questioned.

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