The aim of this study was to conduct an empirical investigation of the validity of Jacobs’ (in J Gambl Behav 2:15–31, 1986) general theory of addictions in relation to gambling problems associated with electronic gaming machines (EGM). Regular EGM gamblers (n = 190) completed a series of standardised measures relating to psychological and physiological vulnerability, substance use, dissociative experiences, early childhood trauma and abuse and problem gambling (the Problem Gambling Severity Index). Statistical analysis using structural equation modelling revealed clear relationships between childhood trauma and life stressors and psychological vulnerability, dissociative-like experiences and problem gambling. These findings confirm and extend a previous model validated by Gupta and Derevensky (in J Gambl Stud 14: 17–49, 1998) using an adolescent population. The significance of these findings are discussed for existing pathway models of problem gambling, for Jacobs’ theory, and for clinicians engaged in assessment and intervention.