Problem and probable pathological gambling: Considerations from a community survey

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the nature and extent of gambling problems in a region of Canada in which legalized gambling activities were expanded during the 1990s. Method: A standardized telephone interview was conducted with a random sample of 738 community-dwelling adults (response rate 74%) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Results: According to traditional classification criteria, the lifetime prevalence of "probable pathological gambling" was 2.6%. A further 3.0% of the sample met criteria for traditionally defined "problem gambling," and evidence suggests that both types of gamblers share several characteristics. Social or recreational gamblers significantly differed on several variables from individuals who reported gambling problems. Conclusions: The 2.6% prevalence figure is the highest yet reported in a Canadian epidemiological survey and was obtained in a region that developed a more liberal attitude toward gambling in the 1990s. Further, a continuum of severity was demonstrated by scores on the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), and a clear and consistent distinction between problem and probable pathological gambling was not apparent. Frequenting casinos and using video poker and slot machines, rather than buying lottery tickets, distinguishes problem or pathological gamblers from recreational gamblers.

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