Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 377–392 | Cite as

A Taxometric Analysis of Problem Gambling Data from a South African National Urban Sample

  • Harold Kincaid
  • Reza Daniels
  • Andrew Dellis
  • Andre Hofmeyr
  • Jacques Rousseau
  • Carla Sharp
  • Don Ross
Original Paper


We investigate the question whether problem gambling (PG) in a recent South African sample, as measured by the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), is dimensional or categorical. We use two taxometric procedures, Mean Above Minus Below A Cut (MAMBAC) and Maxim Covariance (MAXCOV), to investigate the taxonic structure of PG as constructed by the PGSI. Data are from the 2010 South African National Urban Prevalence Study of Gambling Behavior. A representative sample of the urban adult population in South Africa (N = 3,000). Responses are to the 9 item PGSI. MAMBAC provided positive but modest evidence that PG as measured by the PGSI was taxonic. MAXCOV pointed more strongly to the same conclusion. These analyses also provide evidence that a PGSI cutoff score of 10 rather than the standard 8 may be called for. PG as constructed by the PGSI may best be thought of as categorical, but further studies with more theory based measurements are needed to determine whether this holds in a wider range of samples and for other screens. A higher cutoff score may be called for on the PGSI when it is used for research purposes to avoid false positives.


Taxometrics Canadian Problem Gambling Index Problem Gambling Severity Index Categorical versus dimensional Prevalence 



We would like to thank John Ruscio and an anonymous referee for very helpful comments. Any errors are our own.

Conflict of interest

Don Ross is formerly Director of Research, and Jacques Rousseau and Andrew Dellis are former paid consultants, for the National Responsible Gambling Programme, South Africa, which funded the collection of the data used in the reported study. This agency receives money derived from a levy on casinos. Neither the agency nor the industry have any influence on design or reporting of research, which is quality assured and governed by the policies of the University of Cape Town.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harold Kincaid
    • 1
    • 4
  • Reza Daniels
    • 1
  • Andrew Dellis
    • 1
  • Andre Hofmeyr
    • 1
  • Jacques Rousseau
    • 1
  • Carla Sharp
    • 2
  • Don Ross
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.School of EconomicsUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Center for the Economic Analysis of RiskGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health BehaviorUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUK

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