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Men & Women Playing Games: Gender and the Gambling Preferences of Iowa Gambling Treatment Program Participants


Historically, gambling has been a predominantly male pastime; however, as legalized gambling has expanded, female participation has increased. Nevertheless, some research suggests that a divide remains between the play patterns of men and women. For example, research suggests that men gravitate towards casino table games and track betting and women are attracted to games such as bingo and casino slots. Researchers have hypothesized that play pattern disparities exist because of inherent differences between the natures of men and women. Using data from 2256 (1309 male) problem gambling treatment participants, this research examines the influence of gender on play patterns. We tested the ability of gender and a series of demographic, economic, and health-related factors to discriminate among three groups of gamblers with different game preferences: casino preferred, slots preferred, and non-institutional preferred. The results of multiple discriminant function analyses indicated that gender provided a minimal contribution to discrimination beyond that of specific demographic, economic, and health-related factors. This finding suggests that for understanding gambling patterns, gender is less informative than descriptive gambler profiles.

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This project required the collaboration of many people. We extend thanks to Christine Reilly, Christine Thurmond, Gabriel Caro, Lymari Graciano, Mike Stanton, Alexa Rubenstein, and the Iowa Gambling Treatment Program. This project was supported, in part, with funding from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the National Center for Responsible Gaming.

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Correspondence to Debi A. LaPlante.

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LaPlante, D.A., Nelson, S.E., LaBrie, R.A. et al. Men & Women Playing Games: Gender and the Gambling Preferences of Iowa Gambling Treatment Program Participants. J Gambl Stud 22, 65–80 (2006).

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  • gambling
  • pathological gambling
  • gender differences
  • psychosocial factors