Local area disadvantage and gambling involvement and disorder: Evidence for gene-environment correlation and interaction


Previous research has demonstrated that local area characteristics (such as disadvantage and gambling outlet density) and genetic risk factors are associated with gambling involvement and disordered gambling. These 2 lines of research were brought together in the present study by examining the extent to which genetic contributions to individual differences in gambling involvement and disorder contributed to being exposed to, and were also accentuated by, local area disadvantage. Participants were members of the national community-based Australian Twin Registry who completed a telephone interview in which the past-year frequency of gambling and symptoms of disordered gambling were assessed. Indicators of local area disadvantage were based on census data matched to the participants’ postal codes. Univariate biometric model-fitting revealed that exposure to area disadvantage was partially explained by genetic factors. Bivariate biometric model-fitting was conducted to examine the evidence for gene-environment interaction while accounting for gene-environment correlation.

These analyses demonstrated that:
a) a small portion of the genetic propensity to gamble was explained by moving to or remaining in a disadvantaged area, and
b) the remaining genetic and unique environmental variation in the frequency of participating in electronic machine gambling (among men and women) and symptoms of disordered gambling (among women) was greater in more disadvantaged localities. As the gambling industry continues to grow, it will be important to take into account the multiple contexts in which problematic gambling behavior can emerge—from genes to geography—as well as the ways in which such contexts may interact with each other. (PsycINFO Database Record
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