Predictors of problem gambling in the U.S.

Abstract

In this article we examine data from a national U.S. adult survey of gambling to determine correlates of problem gambling and discuss them in light of theories of the etiology of problem gambling. These include theories that focus on personality traits, irrational beliefs, anti-social tendencies, neighborhood influences and availability of gambling. Results show that males, persons in the 31–40 age range, blacks, and the least educated had the highest average problem gambling symptoms. Adults who lived in disadvantaged neighborhoods also had the most problem gambling symptoms. Those who attended religious services most often had the fewest problem gambling symptoms, regardless of religious denomination. Respondents who reported that it was most convenient for them to gamble had the highest average problem gambling symptoms, compared to those for whom gambling was less convenient. Likewise, adults with the personality traits of impulsiveness and depression had more problem gambling symptoms than those less impulsive or depressed. Respondents who had friends who approve of gambling had more problem gambling symptoms than those whose friends did not approve of gambling. The results for the demographic variables as well as for impulsiveness and religious attendance are consistent with an anti-social/impulsivist pathway to problem gambling. The results for depression are consistent with an emotionally vulnerable pathway to problem gambling.

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