A sociological examination of the gendered gambling practices of Ontario adults

Abstract

This research examines differences between men and women in their gambling practices, gambling outcomes, and gambling severity. Using secondary data produced by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre, this research investigates the Ontario adults Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) from 2001 and 2005 to determine if a gender difference exists in the likelihood of becoming a problem gambler, the types of gambling activities one is likely to participate in, and the consequences one may experience as a result of gambling. This study focuses on a sociological approach considering potential gender differences in gambling preferences to be a direct consequence of the social or subcultural environment in which the gamblers live. In other words, a sociological approach postulates that gambling behaviour may be the result of gendered social expectations.
Quantitative analyses suggest that gender differences exist in rates of gambling, types of gambling activities participated, level of problem gambling severity and consequences of problem gambling. Men are more likely to gamble more frequently and have a higher risk of being a problem gambler, they are more likely to participate in both games of skill and chance gambling and men are more likely to experience negative behavioural outcomes and adverse consequences as a result of gambling. Notably, the findings suggest that there is a strong link between the odds of becoming a problem gambler, being male, participating in games of skill gambling, and experiences negative adverse consequences as a result of gambling.
This research has significant clinical implications for those involved in gambling prevention, treatment and education, in that having a better grasp on the gendered division of gambling will allow professionals to develop more gender-specific programs for education, identification and treatment. This study found that men are more vulnerable to participating in high stakes gambling activities and, specifically, in games of skill, which seem to produce higher rates of problem gambling for men, relative to women. Risk-taking and mastery of games of skill are often integral to masculine identity; therefore, it may be advantageous for intervention programming to focus on helping men redefine their masculinity in a socially responsible way. Counseling programs and staff could develop more assessment plans and treatment plans to address the different needs of men and women. It is hoped that this research project will be the first of many attempts to gain a more comprehensive understanding of gambling practices, gambling outcomes.

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