Internet Gamblers Differ on Social Variables: A Latent Class Analysis
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Online gambling has gained popularity in the last decade, leading to an important shift in how consumers engage in gambling and in the factors related to problem gambling and prevention. Indebtedness and loneliness have previously been associated with problem gambling. The current study aimed to characterize online gamblers in relation to indebtedness, loneliness, and several in-game social behaviors. The data set was obtained from 584 Internet gamblers recruited online through gambling websites and forums. Of these gamblers, 372 participants completed all study assessments and were included in the analyses. Questionnaires included those on sociodemographics and social variables (indebtedness, loneliness, in-game social behaviors), as well as the Gambling Motives Questionnaire, Gambling Related Cognitions Scale, Internet Addiction Test, Problem Gambling Severity Index, Short Depression–Happiness Scale, and UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale. Social variables were explored with a latent class model. The clusters obtained were compared for psychological measures and three clusters were found: lonely indebted gamblers (cluster 1: 6.5%), not lonely not indebted gamblers (cluster 2: 75.4%), and not lonely indebted gamblers (cluster 3: 18%). Participants in clusters 1 and 3 (particularly in cluster 1) were at higher risk of problem gambling than were those in cluster 2. The three groups differed on most assessed variables, including the Problem Gambling Severity Index, the Short Depression–Happiness Scale, and the UPPS-P subscales (except the sensation seeking subscore). Results highlight significant between-group differences, suggesting that Internet gamblers are not a homogeneous group. Specific intervention strategies could be implemented for groups at risk.
KeywordsInternet gambling Poker Latent class analysis Impulsivity Loneliness Depression Debt
The authors wish to thank the participants of the study. This research was supported by a grant from a Swiss Inter-Cantonal program aiming to prevent gambling addiction.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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