Problem gambling: Gambling cognition and coping strategies of casino gamblers

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Investigation of dysfunctional thinking patterns about gambling held by individuals who are heavily involved in casino gambling and the strategies they employ for coping with life's difficulties.

METHOD: The study was conducted on 123 gamblers of both sexes in the Athens Mont Parnes Casino. The participants completed questionnaires including one covering socio-demographic information and items regarding their involvement with gambling (gambling frequency, amounts spent, etc.), the Gamblers Anonymous 20 Questions, for the identification of problematic involvement with gambling, the Ways of Coping Scale, for investigation of the main patterns of coping with life difficulties, and a number of closed questions concerning thought patterns about gambling (general beliefs, expectations, cognitive distortions), developed for the present research purposes on the basis of relevant literature. Data analysis was conducted with the use of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), v. 21.0, through the application of non-parametric correlation tests.

RESULTS: The degree of gambling severity showed no statistically significant correlation with the objective data of involvement with gambling. Conversely, gambling severity was shown to be significantly correlated with various cognitive constructs of the participants about gambling, including certain cognitive distortions (i.e., misconceptions, such as win expectancy, confidence in the individual's ability to beat the odds, and favorable interpretation of the laws of probability). In terms of coping strategies, the closest correlation emerged between heavy gambling and the seeking out of social support, especially in the form of concrete, practical support, and resorting to wishful thinking, which is generally viewed as maladaptive, as it prevents individuals from active engagement in problem solving.

CONCLUSIONS: The ways in which casino gamblers perceive and attribute meaning to gambling and the strategies they use to deal with stressful encounters appear to constitute significant components of heavy involvement with gambling and should be the focus of interventions designed to help this specific population.

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