To assess the prevalence of gambling and problem gambling in urban Aboriginals in the Canadian Prairie provinces and to determine the predictors of problem gambling.
In total, 1114 Aboriginals living in 15 cities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba were recruited via posters and direct solicitation at Native Friendship Centres, shopping malls, and other locations where Aboriginals congregated. They each completed a self-administered 5- to 10-minute survey.
Urban Aboriginals in the present sample were found to have a much higher level of gambling participation than the general Canadian public, especially for electronic gambling machines, instant lotteries, and bingo. Their intensity of participation in terms of number of formats, frequency of play, and gambling expenditure was also very high. This, in turn, is an important contributing factor to their very high rate of problem gambling, which was found to be 27.2%. Problem gambling was higher in males, unemployed people, and cities having the highest proportion of their population consisting of urban Aboriginals.
Urban Aboriginal people appear to have some of the highest known rates of problem gambling of any group in Canada. This is attributable to having many more risk factors for problem gambling, such as a greater level of participation in gambling, greater participation in continuous forms of gambling (e.g., electronic gambling machines), younger average age, higher rates of substance abuse and mental health problems, and a range of disadvantageous social conditions (e.g., poverty, unemployment, poor education, cultural stress) that are conducive to the development of addictive behaviour.