Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 1–33 | Cite as

Motivators for Resolving or Seeking Help for Gambling Problems: A Review of the Empirical Literature

  • Helen Suurvali
  • David C. Hodgins
  • John A. Cunningham
Review Paper


This literature review summarizes recent empirical research on the reasons disordered gamblers try, through treatment or otherwise, to resolve or reduce their gambling problems. Relevant databases and bibliographies were searched for English-language studies, published since 1998, that asked gamblers themselves about motivators for action. Found were ten studies addressing reasons for trying to resolve or reduce gambling problems, five addressing reasons for seeking help and four addressing reasons for requesting self-exclusion from casinos. Help-seeking occurred largely in response to gambling-related harms (especially financial problems, relationship issues and negative emotions) that had already happened or that were imminent. Resolution was often motivated by the same kinds of harms but evaluation/decision-making and changes in lifestyle or environment played a more prominent role. Self-exclusion was motivated by harms, evaluation/decision-making and a wish to regain control. Awareness and educational materials could incorporate messages that might encourage heavy gamblers to make changes before harms became too great. Intervention development could also benefit from more research on the motivators leading to successful (vs. failed) resolution, as well as on the ways in which disordered gamblers are able to overcome specific barriers to seeking help or reaching resolution.


Pathological gambling Problem gambling Treatment Help-seeking Casino self-exclusion Resolution Motivators Review 



This research was supported by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre, Guelph, Ontario. In addition, support to CAMH for salary of scientists and infrastructure has been provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Suurvali
    • 1
  • David C. Hodgins
    • 2
  • John A. Cunningham
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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