Problem gambling among adolescent girls in Croatia – the role of different psychosocial predictors

Abstract

Although, compared to boys, adolescent girls gamble less often and less problematically, prevalence studies still show significant numbers of at risk/problem gamblers among girls. However, girl gambling has been on the sidelines of adolescent gambling research. The available studies usually focus only on a narrow set of correlates often ignoring that adolescent gambling is a complex phenomenon determined by various factors. Also, they often measure gambling related consequences with instruments that are not specifically developed for use on adolescents.

In order to contribute to a better understanding of adolescent gambling this study focuses on problem gambling among girls. We consider different social, cognitive, motivational and behavioral factors as predictors of girl problem gambling.

A total of 1,372 high-school girls from 7 Croatian cities participated in the study. They provided data on their gambling activities, peer gambling, cognitive distortions related to gambling, motivation for gambling, and levels of general risky behavior. As the only instrument developed specifically for use on adolescents, the Canadian Adolescent Gambling Inventory was used to examine adverse gambling consequences.

Results show 7.4% of girls can be considered regular gamblers, and out of those who gambled at least once in their lifetime (n = 862), 11.2% already experience mild adverse consequences because of their gambling (at risk gamblers), with 3.2% experiencing serious consequences (problem gamblers). In general, girls seem to prefer lotto and scratch cards, but sports betting seems to be the preferred game of choice among regular girl gamblers. A hierarchical regression model confirmed the importance of much the same factors identified as risky for the development of problem gambling among adolescent boys—cognitive distortions, motives to earn money, to be better at gambling and to relax, the experiences of winning large and the drive to continue gambling, together with social factors such as having friends who also gamble, being involved in other risky and delinquent behavior and higher gambling frequency. Results call into question the importance of the motive to feel better for adolescent girls problem gambling. We discuss implications of our findings for both universal and indicated youth gambling prevention programs.

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