Characteristics of People Affected by Problem Gambling


THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE PROBLEM GAMING INSTITUTE OF ONTARIO.  After my posts concerning social gaming sites, and how the owners of such sites look forward to what they call “healthy addictions” to their games, much like the video game craze of the last 20 years, I feel it is important to post these findings. Remember, a gambling addiction, like all serious addictions affects all those around you and close to you.  If you have a question about your own gambling habits, go to Gambler’s Anonymous and take their simple quiz – it could be the epiphany you need.


What are people affected by problem gambling like? You may have just talked with one a few minutes ago as you relived last night’s hockey or baseball game. Or, the well-dressed person in front of you in the ATM queue may be near bankruptcy from losses at slot machines. It is likely that people you know in your everyday life have serious problems with gambling. Although any adult or adolescent can have gambling problems, researchers have found some patterns in the psychological and demographic characteristics of those most likely to appear with problem gambling.

Problem Gambling Prevalence

The age groups 18-29 and 40-49 were more likely to report gambling problems, with 30 to 39-year-olds less involved, and those 50 and up in age reporting the fewest gambling problems

Males were overwhelmingly represented among the problem gamblers. Interestingly though, in a Windsor, Ontario study among substance users in treatment, men and women had similar rates with both “probable pathological gambling”

Marital status
People with gambling problems were most likely to report being single, i.e., either never married or divorced

Educational level
In their population survey, level of educational attainment showed no relationship with problem gambling

Family income
Level of gambling problems and family income were not significantly related

Social class — a summing up
If educational level and family income roughly approximate what social scientists call social class, then data show no evidence for social class differences in prevalence or severity of gambling problems.

Preferred forms of gambling
eople affected by problem gambling often play a variety of games. Nonetheless, many see one or more games as their principal problem. With 207 gamblers in treatment, 64% casino gambling was their principal problem, and for 43% lotteries were their main problem

Level of debt and amount lost gambling
In the same sample of 207 gamblers in treatment, they had an average debt of $16,000 on an average income of $31,000

Alcohol use / Drug use
“…heavy drinking and drinking problems are associated with higher levels of spending on gambling and reports of gambling problems” However, no real relationship between drug use and gambling problems

The Lives of People with Gambling Problems: An Overview

Smart’s population survey in Ontario provides some insights into how people affected by problem gambling live. One insight is the strong link between alcohol dependence and gambling problems, showing a pattern of not much more total consumption than average, but rather occasions on which gamblers consumed five or more drinks — a tendency to sporadic heavy drinking. Women tend to have shorter problem gambling careers, usually beginning to gamble in later adolescence or even adulthood, but seeking treatment earlier, in their 30’s and 40’s. Men tend to start gambling in their early teens, but take a long time, until they are in their 40’s or 50’s, to develop serious enough problems that they seek treatment. An interesting parallel between alcohol and gambling problems is that although heavier use occurs among the young, those who seek treatment tend to be middle-aged.


That’s all for now.