Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 1799–1818 | Cite as

What’s in a Name? Assessing the Accuracy of Self-identifying as a Professional or Semi-Professional Gambler

  • Nerilee Hing
  • Alex Russell
  • Alex Blaszczynski
  • Sally M. Gainsbury
Original Paper


Growing interest in pursuing a professional gambling career has been accompanied by a rise in individuals self-identifying as professional gamblers. Whether this trend reflects an actual increase in individuals sustaining livelihoods from gambling or inaccurate appropriation of a now glamorized identity is unclear. Adopting a self-image of professional gambler in the absence of ability to earn a sustainable income from the activity may increase risk of problem gambling and deter help-seeking. However, extent of problem gambling in this cohort is uncertain. This study aimed to: (1) determine any differences that might validate the self-reported identity of professional and semi-professional gamblers by investigating characteristics and behaviors that distinguish them from amateur gamblers; and (2) identify characteristics and behaviors that distinguish between self-identified semi-professional/professional gamblers with and without gambling problems. In an online survey of 4,594 Australian gamblers, 1.2 % identified as professional gamblers, 6.8 % as semi-professional gamblers, and 92.0 % as amateur gamblers. Self-identified professional and semi-professional gamblers were distinguished from amateur gamblers by preference for skill-based gambling, higher reported likelihood of winning, and greater use of online gambling and multiple online operators. Two-fifths of professional and three-fifths of semi-professional gamblers scored as moderate risk or problem gamblers, but negative consequences were more likely personal, interpersonal and work/study related, rather than financial. Although results support the general accuracy of self-reported semi/professional gambling status, measures are needed to help semi/professional gamblers distinguish whether their gambling is a problem or profession.


Professional gamblers Semi-professional gamblers Self-identity Self-image Problem gambling Internet gambling 



The study that this paper is based on was commissioned by Gambling Research Australia—a partnership between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments. Gambling Research Australia provided financial support for this project and approved this manuscript for publication. We would also like to thank Anastsia Hronis who completed a literature search and summary to inform this paper.

Conflict of interest

All the authors declares that they have no conflict of interest. They have received research funds from government and industry sources.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nerilee Hing
    • 1
  • Alex Russell
    • 1
  • Alex Blaszczynski
    • 2
  • Sally M. Gainsbury
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Gambling Education and ResearchSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia
  2. 2.Gambling Treatment Clinic and ResearchThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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