Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 1121–1134 | Cite as

Problem Gambling Among Ontario Students: Associations with Substance Abuse, Mental Health Problems, Suicide Attempts, and Delinquent Behaviours

  • Steven Cook
  • Nigel E. Turner
  • Bruce Ballon
  • Angela Paglia-Boak
  • Robert Murray
  • Edward M. Adlaf
  • Gabriela Ilie
  • Wendy den Dunnen
  • Robert E. Mann
Original Paper


This paper describes gambling problems among Ontario students in 2009 and examines the relationship between gambling problems and substance use problems, mental health problem indicators, and delinquent behaviors. Data were derived from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey of Ontario students in grades 7–12. Gambling problems were measured as 2 or more of 6 indicators of problem gambling. In total 2.8 % of the students surveyed endorsed two or more of the problem gambling items. The odds of problem gamblers reporting mental distress was 4.2 times higher than the rest of the sample and the odds of problem gamblers reporting a suicide attempt were 17.8 times greater than the rest of the sample. In addition compared to the rest of the students, delinquent behaviors were also more common among problem gamblers, including theft (OR = 14.5), selling marijuana (OR = 19.6), gang fights (OR = 11.3) and carrying a handgun (OR = 11.2). In a multivariate analysis, substance-use problems, mental health problems, and the participation in a variety of delinquent behaviors remained significantly associated with youth problem gambling behavior. Students who report problem gambling behaviors show increased substance abuse, mental health, and delinquency/criminal problems that are similar to those seen among adult problem gamblers. The association between these problems suggests that these problems could be addressed in a unified manner.


Problem gambling Adolescents Comorbidity Substance use Depression Suicide 



This research was supported by funds from the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario. The ideas expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, or the University of Toronto.


  1. Abbott, M. W., McKenna, B. G., & Giles, L. C. (2005). Gambling and problem gambling among recently sentenced male prisoners in four New Zealand prisons. Journal of Gambling Studies, 21, 537–558.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Adlaf, E. M. (2005). Collecting drug use data from different populations. In Z. Sloboda (Ed.), Epidemiology of drug abuse (pp. 99–111). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adlaf, E. M., & Ialomiteanu, A. (2000). Prevalence of problem gambling in adolescents: Findings from the 1999 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 45, 752–755.Google Scholar
  4. Adlaf, E. & Paglia-Boak. (2003). Ontario student drug use survey. Unpublished raw data.Google Scholar
  5. Akobeng, A. K. (2007). Understanding diagnostic tests 3: Receiver operating characteristic curves. Acta Paediatrica, 96(5), 644–647.Google Scholar
  6. Barnes, G. M., Welte, J. W., Hoffman, J. H., & Dintcheff, B. A. (2005). Shared predictors of youthful gambling, substance use, and delinquency. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 1, 165–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brunelle, N., Leclerc, D., Cousineau, M., Dufour, M., Gendron, A., & Martin, I. (2012). Internet gambling, substance use, and delinquent behavior: An adolescent deviant behavior involvement pattern. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 26(2), 364–370. doi: 10.1037/a0027079.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cheung, N. W. T. (2012). Low self-control and co-occurrence of gambling with substance use and delinquency among Chinese adolescents. Journal of Gambling Studies, 30, 105–124.Google Scholar
  9. Cheung, N. W. T., & Cheung, Y. W. (2008). Self-control, social factors, and delinquency: A test of the general theory of crime among adolescents in Hong Kong. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37(4), 412–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Derevensky, J. L., & Gupta, R. (2000). Youth gambling: A clinical and research perspective. Journal of Gambling Issues, 2. doi: 10.4309/jgi.2000.2.3.
  11. Derevensky, J., & Gupta, R. (2004). Adolescents with gambling problems: A synopsis of our current knowledge. Journal of Gambling Issues, 10. doi: 10.4309/jgi.2004.10.3.
  12. Derevensky, J. L., Gupta, R., & Winters, K. (2003). Prevalence rates of youth gambling problems: Are the current rates inflated? Journal of Gambling Studies, 19, 405–425.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Donovan, J. E., & Jessor, R. (1985). Structure of problem behavior in adolescence and young adulthood. Journal Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53(6), 890–904.Google Scholar
  14. Goldberg, D. P., Gater, R., Sartorius, N., Ustun, T. B., Piccinelli, M., Gureje, O., et al. (1997). The validity of two versions of the GHQ in the WHO study of mental illness in general health care. Psychological Medicine, 27, 191–197.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Goldberg, D. P., & William, P. (1988). A user’s guide to the General Health Questionnaire. Windsor: NFER-Nelson.Google Scholar
  16. Govoni, R., Rupcich, N., & Frisch, G. R. (1996). Gambling behaviour of adolescent gamblers. Journal of Gambling Studies, 12, 1–10.Google Scholar
  17. Gupta, R., & Derevensky, J. L. (1997). Familial and social influences on juvenile gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 13, 179–192.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Gupta, R., & Derevensky, J. L. (1998a). Adolescent gambling behaviour: A prevalence study and examination of the correlates associated with problem gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 14, 319–345.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Gupta, R., & Derevensky, J. L. (1998b). An empirical examination of Jacobs’ General Theory of Addictions: Do adolescent gamblers fit the theory? Journal of Gambling Studies, 14, 17–49.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Hodgins, D. C., Mansley, C., & Thygesen, K. (2006). Risk factors for suicide ideation and attempts among pathological gamblers. American Journal on Addictions, 15, 303–310.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Jacobs, D. F. (2000). Juvenile gambling in North America: An analysis of long-term trends and future prospects. Journal of Gambling Studies, 16, 119–152.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Jessor, R. (1991). Risk behavior in adolescence: A psychosocial framework for understanding and action. Journal of Adolescent Health, 12(8), 597–605.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Kaminer, Y., Burleson, J. A., & Jadamec, A. (2002). Gambling behavior in adolescent substance abuse. Substance Abuse, 23, 191–198.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Kusyszyn, I. (1972). Studies on the psychology of gambling. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  25. Lesieur, H. R., & Klein, R. (1987). Pathological gambling among high school students. Addictive Behaviours, 12, 129–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Magoon, M. E., Gupta, R., & Derevensky, J. (2005). Juvenile delinquency and adolescent gambling: Implications for the juvenile justice system. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 32, 690–713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Martin, G., Copeland, J., Gates, P., & Gilmour, S. (2006). The Severity of Dependence Scale (SDS) in an adolescent population of cannabis users: Reliability, validity and diagnostic cut-off. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 83, 90–93.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Martin, I., Gupta, R., & Derevensky, J. (2009). Les jeux de hasard et d’argent. In G. Dubé, M. Bordeleau, L. Cazale, C. Fournier, I. Traoré, N. Plante, R. Courtemanche, & J. Camirand (Eds.), Enquête québécoise sur le tabac, l’alcool, la drogue et le jeu chez les élèves du secondaire (pp. 149–181).Google Scholar
  29. McCready, J., Mann, R. E., Zhao, J., & Eves, R. (2008). Predictors of the experience of gambling-related problems among older adults in Ontario. Journal of Gambling Issues, 22, 174–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Molde, H., Pallesen, S., Bartone, P., Hystad, S., & Johnsen, B. H. (2009). Prevalence and correlates of gambling among 16 to 19-year-old adolescents in Norway. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 50(1), 55–64.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. National Research Council. (1999). Pathological gambling: A critical review. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  32. Nower, L., Gupta, R., Blaszczynski, A., & Derevensky, J. (2004). Suicidality and depression among youth gamblers: A preliminary examination of three studies. International Gambling Studies, 4, 69–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Paglia-Boak, A., Mann, R. E., Adlaf, E. M., Beitchman, J. H., Wolfe, D., & Rehm, J. (2010). Detailed OSDUHS findings: The mental health and well-being of Ontario students 1991–2009 Toronto. Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.Google Scholar
  34. Saunders, J. B., Aasland, O. G., Babor, T. F., de la Fuente, J. R., & Grant, M. (1993). Development of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT): WHO collaborative project on early detection of persons with harmful alcohol consumption. Addiction, 88, 791–804.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Shaffer, H. J., & Hall, M. N. (1996). Estimating the prevalence of adolescent gambling disorders: A quantitative synthesis and guide toward standard gambling nomenclature. Journal of Gambling Studies, 12, 193–214.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. StataCorp. (2009). Stata statistical software: Release 11.0. College Station, TX: Stata Corporation.Google Scholar
  37. Tozzi, L., Akre, C., Fluery-Schubert, A., & Suris, J. C. (2013). Gambling among youths in Switzerland and its association with other addictive behaviours. Swiss Med Wkly, 142, w13768.Google Scholar
  38. Turner, N. E., Ialomiteanu, A., Paglia-Boak, A., & Adlaf, E. M. (2011). A typological study of gambling and substance use among adolescent students. Journal of Gambling Issues, 25, 88–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Turner, N., Littman-Sharp, N., & Zangeneh, M. (2006). The experience of gambling and its role in problem gambling. International Gambling Studies, 6, 237–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Turner, N., Macdonald, J., Bartoshuk, M., & Zangeneh, M. (2008a). Adolescent gambling behaviour, attitudes, and gambling problems. International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction, 6, 223–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Turner, N. E., Macdonald, J., & Somerset, M. (2008b). Life skills, mathematical reasoning and critical thinking: A curriculum for the prevention of problem gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 24, 367–380.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Turner, N. E., Paglia-Boak, A., Ballon, B., Cheung, J. T. W., Adlaf, E. M., Henderson, J., et al. (2012). Prevalence of problematic video gaming among Ontario 0061dolescents. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 10(6), 877–889. doi: 10.1007/s11469-012-9382-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Turner, N. E., Preston, D. L., Saunders, C., McAvoy, S., & Jain, U. (2009). The relationship of problem gambling to criminal behaviour in a sample of Canadian male federal offenders. Journal of Gambling Studies, 25, 153–169.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Vitaro, F., Wanner, B., Ladouceur, R., Brendgen, M., & Tremblay, R. E. (2004). Trajectories of gambling during adolescence. Journal of Gambling Studies, 20, 47–69.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Walther, B., Morgenstern, M., & Hanewinkel, R. (2012). Co-occurrence of addictive behaviours: Personality factors related to substance use, gambling and computer gaming. European Addiction Research, 18(4), 167–174.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Wanner, B., Vitaro, F., Ladouceur, R., Brendgen, M., & Tremblay, R. E. (2006). Joint trajectories of gambling, alcohol and marijuana use during adolescence: A person-and variable-centered developmental approach. Addictive Behaviors, 31(4), 566–580.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Welte, J. W., Barnes, G. M., Tidwell, M., & Hoffman, J. H. (2008). The prevalence of problem gambling among U.S. adolescents and young adults: Results from a national survey. Journal of Gambling Studies, 24, 119–133.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Welte, J. W., Barnes, G. M., Tidwell, M., & Hoffman, J. H. (2009). Legal gambling availability and problem gambling among adolescents and young adults. International Gambling Studies, 9, 89–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Westphal, J. R., Rush, J. A., Stevens, L., & Johnson, L. J. (1998). Gambling behavior of adolescents in residential placement in northwest Louisiana. Southern Medical Journal, 91, 1038–1041.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Williams, R. J., Royston, J., & Hagen, B. F. (2005). Gambling and problem gambling within forensic populations: A review of the literature. Criminal Justice and Behaviour, 32(6), 665–689. doi: 10.1177/0093854805279947.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Winters, K. C., & Anderson, N. (2000). Gambling involvement and drug use among adolescents. Journal of Gambling Studies, 16, 175–198.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Winters, K. C., Stinchfield, R. D., & Fulkerson, J. (1993). Toward the development of an adolescent gambling problem severity scale. Journal of Gambling Studies, 9, 63–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yeoman, T., & Griffiths, M. (1996). Adolescent machine gambling and crime. Journal of Adolescence, 19, 99–104.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Zangeneh, M., Mann, R. E., McCready, J., & Oseni, L. (2010). Gambling in ethnic adolescent populations: An exploratory study of the utility of Problem Behaviour Theory as an explanatory framework. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 8, 51–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Cook
    • 1
  • Nigel E. Turner
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bruce Ballon
    • 2
    • 4
  • Angela Paglia-Boak
    • 2
  • Robert Murray
    • 2
  • Edward M. Adlaf
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gabriela Ilie
    • 5
  • Wendy den Dunnen
    • 6
  • Robert E. Mann
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.St. Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations