Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 1211–1228 | Cite as

Risk Factors for Gambling Problems Specifically Associated with Sports Betting

  • Alex M. T. RussellEmail author
  • Nerilee Hing
  • Matthew Browne
Original Paper


Studies examining risk factors for problem gambling amongst sports bettors have used screens that assess gambling problems in general. Because people experiencing gambling-related problems tend to gamble on multiple forms, it is unclear whether problems identified amongst sports bettors are due to sports betting itself. The present study examined a range of distal and proximal demographic, behavioural and psychological risk factors using a modified version of the Problem Gambling Severity Index which respondents answered only in relation to their sports betting. In general, those at risk were younger, spoke a language other than English, were more engaged sports bettors and gamblers, and tended not to watch the event they had bet on. They particularly endorsed money-oriented motivations, and had higher erroneous cognitions, gambling urges, and were more likely to experience alcohol issues. Higher-risk sports bettors were also more likely to apportion less responsibility for their gambling to themselves, and to have lower self control. A penalised model found that key predictors were money motivations, gambling urges and erroneous cognitions, alcohol issues and lower self-control, but not sports betting behaviour. These findings suggest that one’s psychological relationship to sports betting is a primary driver of gambling-related problems, rather than just betting behaviour. As sports betting expands through new products and legalisation in additional jurisdictions, understanding who is most at risk from this form of gambling is important to inform legislation as well as harm reduction and treatment measures.


Sports betting Problem gambling Risk factors Self control Wagering Proximal Distal 



This study was funded by internal funding from the Centre for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University (Grant No. NA). The first author was a member of this Centre at the time that the data were collected.


Alex Russell has received funding from Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation; Queensland Justice and Attorney-General; Gambling Research Australia; National Association for Gambling Studies; Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Alberta Gambling Research Institute. He has received industry funding for an evaluation of problem gambling amongst casino employees from Echo/Star Entertainment Group. He is also affiliated with the University of Sydney. Nerilee Hing has received research funds from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Gambling Research Australia, Australian Government Department of Social Services, Alberta Gambling Research Institute, the Australian Gambling Research Centre, the Queensland, New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian Governments, the Australian Research Council, and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. She has also received consultancy funds from Echo Entertainment and Sportsbet and an honorarium from Singapore Pools for membership of its International Advisory Committee. Matthew Browne has received research funds from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Queensland Government Department of Health, Australian Department of Social Services, New Zealand Ministry of Health, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The 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.Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversityBundabergAustralia

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