Gambling behaviors among university youth: Does one’s religious affiliation and level of religiosity play a role?

Abstract

This study investigated the association between religion, religiosity, and gambling using a cross-sectional sample of 570 American University of Beirut students, who self-filled an anonymous English questionnaire. About half (55%) were lifetime gamblers, of which 12% screened as problem/pathological gamblers. Controlling for other demographics and lifetime substance use, Christian students (vs. Muslims) had higher odds of lifetime gambling [6.6 (3.6, 12.2)], any strategic gambling [2.7 (1.2, 5.9)], social nonproblem gambling (SNPG) [7.6 (4.6, 12.3)], and problem/pathological gambling (PG) [6.8(1.8, 26.5)]. Students who never/rarely practiced their faith were 3.6 times as likely [95% CI: 1.5, 8.7] to report lifetime gambling, 3.7 times as likely to report SNPG (vs. NG) [95% CI: 1.3, 10.6], and 7 times as likely to screen for PG (vs. NG) [95% CI: 1.8, 27.4]. Decreased religious importance was associated with greater odds of lifetime gambling, SNPG and PG (vs. nongambling). Stronger associations were observed among Muslims. Religion and religiosity seem to play a protective role, particularly among Muslims whose faith strictly prohibits gambling.

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