Gambling opportunities have expanded greatly in recent years, with ever-increasing availability via the internet as well as land-based options (eg, casinos). Although some research suggests that internet gamblers have higher rates of disordered gambling than land-based only gamblers, the clinical and cognitive importance of these findings is unknown.
We recruited 542 young adults (age 18 to 29) and compared land- based only (n = 385 [70.8%]) and mixed internet/land-based gamblers (LBGs) (n = 157 [28.9%]) on clinical and cognitive measures (gambling behavior, other potentially addictive behaviors, psychiatric comorbidity, self-report measures of impulsivity, and neurocognitive functioning).
Mixed internet/LBGs were more likely to be disordered gamblers and have worse gambling urges and behaviors, more depressive symptoms, and greater rates of internet addiction; these differences were of medium to large effect size. The 2 groups did not exhibit any significant differences on cognitive tasks assessing cognitive flexibility, motor impulsivity, or spatial working memory.
This research suggests that mixed internet/LBGs and land-based only gamblers differ on important clinical features but not in terms of neuropsychological functioning. Whether subtyping based on mode of gambling could have utility for treatment interventions awaits future research.