Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 105–121 | Cite as

Problem gambling and policy advice: The mutability and relative effects of structural, associational and attitudinal variables

  • Joseph Hraba
  • Gang Lee


Research on gambling has the double mandate of public service and the advancement of science. This paper is meant to carry forward that mandate. Latent in research on the causes of problem gambling is the policy insight that these causes represent different types of phenomena and are unequally mutable to practitioners' efforts to prevent and/or treat problem gambling. By making the issue of mutability manifest in research, findings from research would have more policy relevance and practical import. Data from a 1989 Iowa survey on lottery play and problem gambling are analyzed to illustrate this point. 1,226 respondents were contacted by phone and phone interviews were completed with 1,011 of these 1,226 eligible respondents. With multiple regression, we assessed the contributions of mutable and immutable variables to the explained variance in problem gambling. The results show mutable correlates explain enough variance in problem gambling to recommend their consideration in treatment/prevention. The results also suggest a social as well as a psychological etiology to problem gambling. Future research should, however, do a more complete comparison of social and psychological causes of problem gambling.


Relative Effect Public Service Problem Gambling Phone Interview Policy Relevance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abt, V., Smith, J.F. & Christiansen, F.M. (1985).The business of risk: Commercial gambling in mainstream America. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association (1980).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Third Edition. Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  3. American Psychiatric Association (1987).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Third Edition, revised. Washington, D.C.: Author.Google Scholar
  4. Bergler, E. (1958).The psychology of gambling. London: Harrison.Google Scholar
  5. Clotfelter, C.T. (1979). On the regressivity of state-operated numbers games.National Tax Journal, 32, 543–548.Google Scholar
  6. Clotfelter, C.T. & Cook, P.J. (1989).Selling hope: State lotteries in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Frey, J.H. (1984). Gambling: A sociological review.Annals, 474, 107–120.Google Scholar
  8. Hraba, J. (1989).Report to Iowa Department of Human Services: Research on The Iowa Lottery and Gambling. Ames, Iowa: Department of Sociology, Iowa State University.Google Scholar
  9. Hraba, J., Mok, W. & Huff, D. (1990). Lottery play and problem gambling.Journal of Gambling Studies, 6, 355–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jacobs, D. (1989). Illegal and undocumented: A review of teenage gambling and the plight of children of problem gamblers in America. In H.J. Shaffer, S.A. Stein, B. Gambino and T.N. Cummings (Eds.).Compulsive gambling: Theory, research, and practice. (pp. 249–291). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  11. Kallick, M., Suits, D., Dielman, T. & Hybels, J. (1979). Gambling participation. In M. Kallick, D. Suits, T. Dielman, and J. Hybels (Eds.).A survey of American gambling attitudes and behavior. (pp. 1–44). Ann Arbor, MI: Survey Research Center. Institute for Social Research.Google Scholar
  12. Langer, E.J. (1983).The psychology of control. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Lesieur, H.R. (1977).The chase: Career of the compulsive gambler. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor.Google Scholar
  14. Lesieur, H.R. (1979). The compulsive gambler's spiral of options and involvement.Psychiatry, 42, 79–87.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Lesieur, H.R. & Blume, S. (1987). The South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS): A new instrument for the identification of pathological gamblers.American Journal of Psychiatry, 114, 1184–1188.Google Scholar
  16. Lieberman, L. (1988).A social typology of gambling behavior. NY: National Council in Compulsive Gambling.Google Scholar
  17. Livernois, J. (1987). The redistributive effects of lotteries: Evidence from Canada.Public Finance Quarterly, 15, 339–351.Google Scholar
  18. Mok, W. & Hraba, J. (1991). Age and gambling behavior: A declining and shifting pattern of participation.Journal of Gambling Studies, 7, 313–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Moran, E. (1975). Pathological gambling.Contemporary Psychiatry, British Journal of Psychiatry, Special Publication No. 9. London: Royal College of Psychiatrists.Google Scholar
  20. Orford, J. (1985).Excessive appetites: A psychological view of additions. NY: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  21. Rosecrance, J. (1986). Attributions and the origins of problems gambling.The Sociological Quarterly, 27, 463–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sommers, I. (1988). Pathological gambling: Estimating prevalence and group characteristics.International Journal of the Addictions, 23, 477–490.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Spiro, M.H. (1974). On the incidence of the Pennsylvania Lottery.National Tax Journal, 27, 57–61.Google Scholar
  24. Suits, D.B. (1977). Gambling taxes: Regressivity and Revenue Potential.National Tax Journal, 30, 19–35.Google Scholar
  25. Transition Planning Associates (1985).A survey of pathological gamblers in the state of Ohio. Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  26. Vaillancourt, F. & Grignon, J. (1988). Canadian lotteries as taxes: Revenues and incidence.Canadian Tax Journal, 36, 369–388.Google Scholar
  27. Volberg, R.A. & Steadman, H.J. (1988). Refining prevalence estimates of pathological gambling.American Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 502–505.Google Scholar
  28. Wells, C. (1989). America's gambling fever: Everybody wants a piece of the action-but is it good for us?Business Week, 3102 (April 24), 112–120.Google Scholar
  29. Winston, S. & Harris, H. (1984).Nation of gamblers. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Hraba
    • 1
  • Gang Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyIowa State UniversityAmes

Personalised recommendations