Identifying indicators of harmful and problem gambling in a Canadian sample through receiver operating characteristic analysis

Abstract

Many gamblers would prefer to reduce gambling on their own rather than to adopt an abstinence approach within the context of a gambling treatment program. Yet responsible gambling guidelines lack quantifiable markers to guide gamblers in wagering safely. To address these issues, the current investigation implemented receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis to identify behavioral indicators of harmful and problem gambling. Gambling involvement was assessed in 503 participants (275 psychiatric outpatients and 228 community gamblers) with the Canadian Problem Gambling Index. Overall gambling frequency, duration, and expenditure were able to distinguish harmful and problematic gambling at a moderate level. Indicators of harmful gambling were generated for engagement in specific gambling activities: frequency of tickets and casino; duration of bingo, casino, and investments; and expenditures on bingo, casino, sports betting, games of skill, and investments. Indicators of problem gambling were similarly produced for frequency of tickets and casino, and expenditures on bingo, casino, games of skill, and investments. Logistic regression analyses revealed that overall gambling frequency uniquely predicted the presence of harmful and problem gambling. Furthermore, frequency indicators for tickets and casino uniquely predicted the presence of both harmful and problem gambling. Together, these findings contribute to the development of an empirically based method enabling the minimization of harmful or problem gambling through self-control rather than abstinence.

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