Internet gamblers: A latent class analysis of their behaviours and health experiences

Abstract

In order to learn about the behaviours and health experiences of people who gamble on the Internet, we conducted an international online survey with respondents recruited via gambling and gambling-related websites. The mean (SD) age of the 4,125 respondents completing the survey was 35.5 (11.8) years, with 79.1% being male and 68.8% UK residents. Respondents provided demographic details and completed validated psychometric screening instruments for problem gambling, mood disturbances, as well as alcohol and substance misuse, and history of deliberate self harm. We applied latent class analysis to respondents' patterns of regular online gambling activities, and identified subgroups of individuals who used the Internet to gamble in different ways (L 2 = 44.27, bootstrap P = 0.07). We termed the characteristic profiles as 'non-to-minimal gamblers'; 'sports bettors'; 'casino & sports gamblers'; 'lottery players'; and 'multi-activity gamblers'. Furthermore, these subgroups of respondents differed on other demographic and psychological dimensions, with significant inter-cluster differences in proportion of individuals scoring above threshold for problem gambling, mood disorders and substance misuse, and history of deliberate self harm (all ? 2s > 23.4, all P-values <0.001). The 'casino & sports' and 'multi-activity-gamblers' clusters had the highest prevalence of mental disorder. Internet gamblers appear to be heterogeneous but composed of several subgroups, differing markedly on both demographic and clinical characteristics.

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