Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 1423–1439 | Cite as

Feasibility of Brief Screening for At-Risk Gambling in Consumer Credit Counseling

  • Paul SaccoEmail author
  • Jodi Jacobson Frey
  • Christine Callahan
  • Martin Hochheimer
  • Rachel Imboden
  • Devon Hyde
Original Paper


Gambling disorder and problem gambling often lead to major suffering in the form of mental health problems, interpersonal conflict, and financial crises. One potential setting for detecting at-risk gambling is credit counseling as gambling problems may manifest themselves in the form of financial distress and bankruptcy. Research studies have not considered those seeking credit counseling as individuals at risk for gambling problems even though gambling may contribute to financial distress. Therefore, the current study sought to quantify the prevalence of at-risk gambling in credit counseling compared with national estimates, to compare at-risk gamblers in this population to lower risk individuals, and to assess the feasibility of gambling screening in these settings. Using a mixed methods approach, the current study found that almost 20% of callers to a national agency reported gambling behavior, and among those who gambled, they reported higher rates of problems related to gambling than the broader U.S. population, thus supporting the idea that screening in credit counseling may help identify those at risk. Low risk gamblers were slightly younger than non-gamblers, but no other differences in sociodemographic and financial status variables were found based on gambling risk status. Results from focus groups and individual interviews suggest that credit counselors and program administrators see the benefit to brief screening within their intake and counseling processes. Our findings suggest that gambling screening is feasible in consumer credit counseling and may be acceptable to staff and administrators at these agencies.


Gambling disorder At-risk gambling Consumer credit counseling Brief biosocial gambling screen Debt 



This study was funded by a Seed Grant from the National Council on Responsible Gaming awarded in 2017.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Guidewell Financial SolutionsCatonsvilleUSA

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