A previous study (Ricketts, T. and Macaskill, A. Gambling as emotion management: developing a grounded theory of problem gambling. Addiction Research and Theory 11(6).) delineated a theory of problem gambling based on the experiences of treatment seeking male gamblers and allowed predictions to be made regarding the processes that differentiate between normal and problem gamblers. These predictions are the focus of the present study, which also utilised a grounded theory approach, but with a sample of male high frequency normal gamblers. The findings suggest that there are common aspects of gambling associated with arousal and a sense of achievement. The use of gambling to manage negative emotional states differentiated normal and problem gambling. Perceived self-efficacy, emotion management skills and perceived likelihood of winning money back were intervening variables differentiating problem and normal gamblers.