Journal of gambling behavior

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 269-281

First online:

Children of Gamblers Anonymous members

  • Henry R. LesieurAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology & Anthropology, St. John's University
  • , Jerome RothschildAffiliated with

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One hundred and five children of Gamblers Anonymous (GA) members and pathological gamblers in treatment were surveyed concerning behavioral, psychological, and emotional problems as well as parental use of violence. The results were compared with control groups and Jacobs' study of high school students who reported they were children of compulsive gamblers. Children of known pathological gamblers were less likely to admit to moderate or heavy use of cocaine/crack and less likely to gamble more than they could afford than either Jacobs' children of compulsive gamblers or controls. Children of pure gamblers looked more like Jacobs' controls than the self-reported children of compulsive gamblers he surveyed on several measures. Children of multiple-problem families are more likely than children of pure gamblers to smoke tobacco, get drunk, overeat, sleep “worse than most people,” have an unhappy present state of mind, and feel more insecure, inferior, or inadequate than most. GA and treatment children as a whole were more likely to say they had an unhappy childhood, and feel a need for success, acceptance, and approval than Jacobs' children of compulsive gamblers or his controls. Using Strauset al.'s “conflict tactics scale,” children of known pathological gamblers were more subject to parental violence and abuse than nationally normed samples. On most measures, the children of multiple-problem families fared worse than children of pure gamblers. However, there were no differences in the expressions of anger, hurt, sadness, depression, confusion, and other feelings between these groups concerning their parents' gambling. Treatment implications of the findings are discussed.