Racial and ethnic differences in problem gambling among college students

Abstract

The college years are a formative period where the risk for development of problematic gambling is high. Research examining racial and ethnic differences in gambling behaviors has been limited and inconsistent. The aims of this study were to examine racial and ethnic differences in problem gambling among a large sample of college students.

Undergraduates (N = 3058) from a large southern university completed an online screening questionnaire which included demographics, gambling frequency, gambling expenditure (i.e. money lost) in the previous 6 months, and the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS). Negative binomial regression results indicated that Asian participants gambled less frequently than participants who were Caucasian or Hispanic/Latino(a), but spent more money than participants who were African-American (AA)/Black or Hispanic/Latino(a). A significantly larger proportion of Asian students met probable pathological gambling criteria (SOGS 5+; 7.8 %) and at-risk gambling criteria (SOGS 3+; 16.3 %)) than Caucasian (5.2; 10.1 %), AA/Black (3.9; 10.2 %), or Hispanic/Latino(a) (3.6; 9.4 %) students. Additionally, a significantly larger proportion of Asian students endorsed problematic gambling indicators such as lying about losses, feeling guilty about gambling, feeling like they had a gambling problem, being criticized for their gambling, feeling like they couldn't stop gambling, losing time from school or work due to gambling, having a family history of problem gambling, and arguing with close others about their gambling than Caucasian, AA/Black or Hispanic/Latino(a) students. Results suggest that Asian students may be a high-risk sub-group of college gamblers, and that there is a critical need for targeted interventions for this population.

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