Gambling Involvement: Considering Frequency of Play and the Moderating Effects of Gender and Age

  • Tracie O. Afifi
  • Debi A. LaPlante
  • Tamara L. Taillieu
  • Damien Dowd
  • Howard J. Shaffer


Research indicates that specific types of gambling, such as electronic gaming machines (e.g., Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs), slot machines, virtual gaming machines), are associated with increased odds of experiencing gambling problems. Recent findings suggest that to advance our understanding of gambling-related problems scientists need to focus less on a simple association (e.g., specific gambling type) and more on complex models that include the extent of gambling involvement. The objective of this study is to advance this area of investigation by establishing the generalizability of the involvement effect to the general population of Canada, as well as to examine two potential moderating factors: gender and age. Secondary data analysis of the nationally representative Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) cycle 1.2 (data collected during 2002, response rate = 77 %, n = 18,913) using logistic regression models were conducted. All types of gambling were associated with problem gambling. However, when adjusting for gambling involvement (i.e., the number of games played during the past year), these specific game relationships were either eliminated or attenuated. Significant relationships remained for instant win lottery tickets, bingo, card and/or board games, electronic gaming machines outside of casinos, electronic gaming machines inside casinos, other casino gambling, horse racing, sports lotteries, and games of skill. For many types of gambling, the nature of the relationships seemed to be a function of the frequency of engagement with specific games. Gender and age did not moderate these findings. These findings indicate that focusing on a narrow direct cause (e.g., game type) for gambling problems needs to shift towards a more complex model that also includes the level of gambling involvement.


Gambling Problem gambling Gaming Games Gambling involvement Gambling participation Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) Electronic gaming machines Casinos Lotteries Bingo Population 



Adjusted odds ratio


Canadian Community Health Survey


Canadian Problem Gambling Index


Odds ratio


Video Lottery Terminals



This research was funded through the Health Sciences Centre Foundation (HSC Foundation). Preparation of the article was also supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award and a Manitoba Health Research Council (MHRC) establishment award (Dr. Afifi).

The Division on Addictions receives support from the National Institute of Mental Health, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, The National Institute on Drug Abuse, The Century Council, the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, and digital entertainment.

Statistics Canada collected and provided the data for academic purposes, but the analyses are the sole responsibility of the authors. The opinions expressed do not represent the views of Statistics Canada.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Afifi, T. O., Cox, B. J., Martens, P. J., Sareen, J., & Enns, M. W. (2010). The relationship between types and frequency of gambling activities and problem gambling among women in Canada. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 55, 21–28.Google Scholar
  2. Beland, Y., Dufour, J., & Gravel, R. (2001). Sample design of the Canadian mental health and well-being survey. In (pp. 93–98). Vancouver, BC: Statistical Society of Canada.Google Scholar
  3. Cox, B. J., Yu, N., Afifi, T. O., & Ladouceur, R. (2005). A national survey of gambling problems in Canada. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 50, 213–217.Google Scholar
  4. Currie, S. R., Hodgins, D. C., Wang, J., el-Guebaly, N., Wynne, H., & Chen, S. (2006). Risk of harm among gamblers in the general population as a function of level of participation in gambling activities. Addiction, 101, 570–580.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Delfabbro, P., King, D., & Griffiths, M. D. (2013). From adolescent to adult gambling: an analysis of longitudinal gambling patterns in South Austrailia. Journal of Gambling Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10899-013-9384-7.
  6. Ferris, J., & Wynne, H. (2001a). The Canadian Problem Gambling Index: Final report. Submitted for the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.Google Scholar
  7. Ferris, J., & Wynne, H. (2001b). The Canadian Problem Gambling Index: User manual. Ottawa: Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse.Google Scholar
  8. Gravel, R., & Beland, Y. (2005). The Canadian Community Health Survey: mental health and well-being. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 50, 573–579.Google Scholar
  9. Halme, J. T. (2011). Overseas internet poker and problem gambling in Finland 2007: a secondary data analysis of a Finnish population survey. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 28, 51–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hing, N., & Breen, H. (2001). Profiling lady luck: an empirical study of gambling and problem gambling amongst female club members. Journal of Gambling Studies, 17, 47–69.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kairouz, S., Nadeau, L., & Lo Siou, G. (2005). Area variations in the prevalence of substance use disorders and gambling behaviour and problems in Quebec: a multilevel analysis. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 50, 591–598.Google Scholar
  12. Ladd, G. T., & Petry, N. M. (2002). Gender differences among pathological gamblers seeking treatment. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 10, 302–309.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. LaPlante, D. A., Nelson, S. E., LaBrie, R. A., & Shaffer, H. J. (2006). Men and women playing games: gender and the gambling preferences of Iowa gambling treatment program participants. Journal of Gambling Studies, 22, 65–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. LaPlante, D. A., Nelson, S. E., LaBrie, R. A., & Shaffer, H. J. (2011). Disordered gambling, type of gambling and gambling involvement in the British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2007. European Journal of Public Health, 21, 532–537.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. LaPlante, D. A., Afifi, T. O., & Shaffer, H. J. (2013). Games and gambling involvement among casino patrons. Journal of Gambling Studies, 29, 191–203. doi: 10.1007/s10899-012-9307-z.
  16. Marshall, K., & Wynne, H. (2003). Fighting the odds. Perspectives, 75-001-XIE, 5–13.Google Scholar
  17. Marshall, K., & Wynne, H. (2004). Against the odds: a profile of at-risk and problem gamblers. Canadian Social Trends, 11–008, 25–29.Google Scholar
  18. Nelson, S. E., LaPlante, D. A., LaBrie, R. A., & Shaffer, H. J. (2006). The proxy effect: gender and gambling problem trajectories of Iowa gambling treatment program participants. Journal of Gambling Studies, 22, 221–240.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Potenza, M. N., Steinberg, M. A., McLaughlin, S. D., Wu, R., Rounsaville, B. J., & O’Malley, S. S. (2001). Gender-related differences in the characteristics of problem gamblers using a gambling helpline. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 158, 1500–1505.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Shah, B. V., Barnwell, B. G., & Bieler, G. S. (2004). SUDAAN user’s manual: Release 9.0. Triangle Park: Research Triangle Institute.Google Scholar
  21. Statistics Canada, Health Statistics Division (2004). Canadian community health survey cycle 1.2 - mental health and well-being: User guide for the public use microdata file. Ottawa: Minister of Industry. Available at
  22. Welte, J. W., Barnes, G. M., Tidwell, M.-C. O., & Hoffman, J. H. (2009). The association of form of gambling with problem gambling among American youth. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23, 105–112.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wood, R. T., & Williams, R. J. (2011). A comparative profile of the Internet gambler: demographic characteristics, game-play patterns, and problem gambling status. New Media & Society, 13, 1123–1141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracie O. Afifi
    • 1
  • Debi A. LaPlante
    • 2
  • Tamara L. Taillieu
    • 3
  • Damien Dowd
    • 4
  • Howard J. Shaffer
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Community Health Sciences, Psychiatry, and Family Social SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Division on Addiction, The Cambridge Health Alliance, A Teaching Affiliate of Harvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Applied Health SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations