Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 863–880 | Cite as

A Latent Class Analysis of Gambling Activity Patterns in a Canadian University Sample of Emerging Adults: Socio-demographic, Motivational, and Mental Health Correlates

  • Matthew D. Sanscartier
  • Jason D. EdgertonEmail author
  • Lance W. Roberts
Original Paper


This analysis of gambling habits of Canadian university students (ages 18–25) dovetails two recent developments in the field of gambling studies. First, the popularity of latent class analysis to identify heterogeneous classes of gambling patterns in different populations; second, the validation of the Gambling Motives Questionnaire (with financial motives) among university students—specifically to understand both how and why emerging adults gamble. Our results support a four-class model of gambling activity patterns, consisting of female-preponderant casual and chance-based gambling groups, and male-preponderant skill-based and extensive gambling groups. Each class shows a specific combination of motives, underscoring the necessity for nuanced responses to problem gambling among emerging adults. More specifically, gambling for the skill-based group appears primarily to be a source of thrill and a way to cope; for the chance-based group, gambling appears but one symptom of a set of wider issues involving depression, anxiety, substance use, and low self-esteem; while extensive gamblers seem to seek excitement, sociality, and coping, in that order. Only the chance-based group was significantly more likely than casual gamblers to be motivated by financial reasons. Situating our analysis in the literature, we suggest that interventions for the predominantly male subtypes should address gambling directly (e.g. re-focusing excitement seeking into other activities, instilling more productive coping mechanisms) while interventions for predominantly female subtypes should address low self-esteem in conjunction with depression, substance abuse, and problematic levels of gambling. We conclude future research should focus on links between self-esteem, depression, substance abuse, and financial motives for gambling among female emerging adults.


Latent class analysis GMQ-F Self-esteem College students Gendered gambling 



This grant was funded by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Grant MGRP-SM-14-13.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All three authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional psychology/Sociology Research Ethics Board (PSREB Protocol #P2014:079) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


  1. Alfeld-Liro, C., & Sigelman, C. K. (1998). Sex differeces in self-concept and symptoms of depression during the transition to college. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27(2), 219–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkinson, J., Sharp, C., Schmitz, J., & Yaroslavsky, I. (2012). Behavioral activation and inhibition, negative affect, and gambling severity in a sample of young adult college students. Journal of Gambling Studies, 28(3), 437–449. Scholar
  3. Barnes, G. M., Welte, J. W., Hoffman, J. H., & Dintcheff, B. A. (2002). Effects of alcohol misuse on gambling patterns in youth. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 63, 767–775.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Birtel, M. D., Wood, L., & Kempa, N. J. (2017). Stigma and social support in substance abuse: Implications for mental health and well-being. Psychiatry Research, 252, 1–8. Scholar
  5. Blank, M. L., Connor, J., Gray, A., & Tustin, K. (2016). Alcohol use, mental well-being, self-esteem and general self-efficacy among final-year university students. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatric Epidemiolology, 51(3), 431–441. Scholar
  6. Boldero, J. M., Bell, R. C., & Moore, S. M. (2010). Do gambling activity patterns predict gambling problems? A latent class analysis of gambling forms among Australian youth. International Gambling Studies, 10(2), 151–163. Scholar
  7. Carbonneau, R., Vitaro, F., Brendgen, M., & Tremblay, R. E. (2015). Variety of gambling activities from adolescence to age 30 and association with gambling problems: A 15-year longitudinal study of a general population sample. Addiction, 110(12), 1985–1993. Scholar
  8. Carleton, R. N., Thibodeau, M. A., Teale, M. J., Welch, P. G., Abrams, M. P., Robinson, T., et al. (2013). The center for epidemiologic studies depression scale: A review with a theoretical and empirical examination of item content and factor structure. PLoS ONE, 8(3), e58067. Scholar
  9. Carragher, N., & McWilliams, L. A. (2011). A latent class analysis of DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Psychiatry Research, 187(1–2), 185–192. Scholar
  10. Chamberlain, S. R., Stochl, J., Redden, S. A., Odlaug, B. L., & Grant, J. E. (2017). Latent class analysis of gambling subtypes and impulsive/compulsive associations: Time to rethink diagnostic boundaries for gambling disorder? Addictive Behaviors, 72, 79–85. Scholar
  11. Chambers, R. A., & Potenza, M. N. (2003). Neurodevelopment, impulsivity and adolescent gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 19(1), 53–84.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Chinneck, A., Mackinnon, S. P., & Stewart, S. H. (2016). Investigating possible reciprocal relations between depressive and problem gambling symptoms in emerging adults. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 61(2), 93–101. Scholar
  13. Collado-Rodriguez, A., MacPherson, L., & Lejuez, C. (2017). Substance Use Disorders and Disorders of Mood. In R. J. DeRubeis & D. R. Strunk (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of mood disorders (pp. 336–347). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Collison, D., Banbury, S., & Lusher, J. (2016). Relationships between age, sex, self-esteem and attitudes towards alcohol use amongst university students. Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education, 60(2), 16–34.Google Scholar
  15. Conley, C. S., Kirsch, A. C., Dickson, D. A., & Bryant, F. B. (2014). Negotiating the transition to college: Developmental trajectories and gender differences in psychological functioning, cognitive-affective strategies, and social well-being. Emerging Adulthood, 2(3), 195–210. Scholar
  16. Cunningham-Williams, R. M., & Hong, S. I. (2007). A latent class analysis (LCA) of problem gambling among a sample of community-recruited gamblers. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 195(11), 939–947. Scholar
  17. Currie, S. R., Hodgins, D. C., & Casey, D. M. (2013). Validity of the problem gambling severity index interpretive categories. Journal of Gambling Studies, 29(2), 311–327. Scholar
  18. Dechant, K. (2014). Show me the money: Incorporating financial motives into the gambling motives questionnaire. Journal of Gambling Studies, 30(4), 949–965. Scholar
  19. Delfabbro, P. (2000). Gender differences in Australian Gambling: A critical summar of sociological and psychological research. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 35(2), 145–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Delfabbro, P. (2011). Australasian gambling review. Retrieved from Adelaide, South Australia.Google Scholar
  21. Delfabbro, P., & Thrupp, L. (2003). The social determinants of youth gambling in South Australian adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 26(3), 313–330. Scholar
  22. Dickson, L. M., Derevensky, J., & Gupta, R. (2002). The prevention of gambling problems in youth: A conceptual framework. Journal of Gambling Studies, 18(2), 97–159.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Dong, Y., & Peng, C.-Y. J. (2013). Principled missing data methods for researchers. SpringerPlus, 2(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Donovan, J. E., & Jessor, R. (1985). Structure of problem behavior in adolesence and young adulthood. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53(6), 890–904.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Edgerton, J. D., Melnyk, T. S., & Roberts, L. W. (2015). An exploratory study of multiple distinct gambling trajectories in emerging adults. Journal of Youth Studies, 18(6), 743–762. Scholar
  26. Edkins, T., Edgerton, J. D., & Roberts, L. W. (2017). Correlates of binge drinking in a sample of Canadian University students. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 8(1), 112. Scholar
  27. Ellenbogen, S., Derevensky, J., & Gupta, R. (2007). Gender differences among adolescents with gambling-related problems. Journal of Gambling Studies, 23(2), 133–143. Scholar
  28. Enders, C. K. (2003). Using the expectation maximization algorithm to estimate coefficient alpha for scales with item-level missing data. Psychological Methods, 8(3), 322–337. Scholar
  29. Faregh, N., & Leth-Steensen, C. (2011). The gambling profiles of Canadians young and old: Game preferences and play frequencies. International Gambling Studies, 11(1), 23–41. Scholar
  30. Gausset, Q., & Jansbøl, K. (2009). “Tell me what you play and I will tell you who you are”: Values and gambling habits in two Danish universities. International Gambling Studies, 9(1), 67–78. Scholar
  31. Gerrard, M., Gibbons, F. X., Reis-Bergan, M., & Russell, D. W. (2000). Self-esteem, self-serving cognitions, and health risk behavior. Journal of Personality, 68(6), 1177–1201.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Goldstein, A. L., Stewart, S. H., Hoaken, P. N., & Flett, G. L. (2014). Mood, motives, and gambling in young adults: An examination of within- and between-person variations using experience sampling. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 28(1), 217–228. Scholar
  33. González-Roz, A., Fernandez-Hermida, J. R., Weidberg, S., Martinez-Loredo, V., & Secades-Villa, R. (2017). Prevalence of problem gambling among adolescents: A comparison across modes of access, gambling activities, and levels of severity. Journal of Gambling Studies, 33(2), 371–382. Scholar
  34. Goudriaan, A. E., Slutske, W. S., Krull, J. L., & Sher, K. J. (2009). Longitudinal patterns of gambling activities and associated risk factors in college students. Addiction, 104(7), 1219–1232. Scholar
  35. Griffiths, M. D. (2006). A case study of binge problem gambling. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 4(4), 369–376. Scholar
  36. Hauss, D., Mentzoni, R. A., Blaszczynski, A., Molde, H., Torsheim, T., & Pallesen, S. (2015). Prevalence and correlates of problem gambling in a representative sample of Norwegian 17-year-olds. Journal of Gambling Studies, 31(3), 659–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hing, N., & Breen, H. (2001). Profiling lady luck: An empirical study of gambling and problem gambling amongst female club members. Journal of Gambling Studies, 17(1), 47–69.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Hing, N., Breen, H., Gordon, A., & Russell, A. (2014). Gambling among indigenous men and problem gambling risk factors: An Australian study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 12(4), 491–508. Scholar
  39. James, R. J., O’Malley, C., & Tunney, R. J. (2016). Loss of control as a discriminating factor between different latent classes of disordered gambling severity. Journal of Gambling Studies, 32(4), 1155–1173. Scholar
  40. Lambe, L., Mackinnon, S. P., & Stewart, S. H. (2015). Validation of the gambling motives questionnaire in emerging adults. Journal of Gambling Studies, 31(3), 867–885. Scholar
  41. Lesieur, H. R., Cross, J., Frank, M., Welch, M., White, C. M., Rubenstein, G., et al. (1991). Gambling and pathological gambling among university students. Addictive Behaviors, 16, 517–527.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Lorains, F. K., Cowlishaw, S., & Thomas, S. A. (2011). Prevalence of comorbid disorders in problem and pathological gambling: Systematic review and meta-analysis of population surveys. Addiction, 106(3), 490–498. Scholar
  43. Lynch, W. J., Maciejewski, P. K., & Potenza, M. N. (2004). Psychiatric correlates of gambing in adolescents and young adults grouped by age at gambling onset. Archives of General Psychiatry, 61, 1116–1122.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Mackie, C. J., Conrod, P., & Brady, K. (2012). Depression and substance use. In J. Verster, K. Brady, M. Galanter, & P. Conrod (Eds.), Drug abuse and addiction in mental illness (pp. 275–283). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Marchica, L., Zhao, Y., Derevensky, J., & Ivoska, W. (2017). Understanding the relationship between sports-relevant gambling and being at-risk for a gambling problem among american adolescents. Journal of Gambling Studies, 33(2), 437–448. Scholar
  46. McBride, O., Adamson, G., & Shevlin, M. (2010). A latent class analysis of DSM-IV pathological gambling criteria in a nationally representative British sample. Psychiatry Research, 178(2), 401–407. Scholar
  47. Mirzairad, R., Haydari, A., Pasha, R., Ehteshamzadeh, P., & Makvandi, B. (2017). The relationship between perfectionism and psychological distress with the mediation of coping styles and self-esteem. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 15(3), 614–620. Scholar
  48. Moore, S., & Ohtsuka, K. (1999). Beliefs about control over gambling among young people, and their relation to problem gambling. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 13(4), 339–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Moore, S. M., Thomas, A. C., Kale, S., Spence, M., Zlatevska, N., Staiger, P. K., et al. (2013). Problem gambling among international and domestic university students in Australia: Who is at risk? Journal of Gambling Studies, 29(2), 217–230. Scholar
  50. Mutti-Packer, S., Hodgins, D. C., El-Guebaly, N., Casey, D. M., Currie, S. R., Williams, R. J., et al. (2017). Problem gambling symptomatology and alcohol misuse among adolescents: A parallel-process latent growth curve model. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 31(4), 447–456. Scholar
  51. Nicholls, A. R., Polman, R. C. J., Levy, A. R., & Borkoles, E. (2010). The mediating role of coping: A cross-sectional analysis of the relationship between coping self-efficacy and coping effectiveness among athletes. International Journal of Stress Management, 17(3), 181–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nylund, K. L., Asparouhov, T., & Muthén, B. O. (2007). Deciding on the number of classes in latent class analysis and growth mixture modeling: A Monte Carlo simulation study. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 14(4), 535–569. Scholar
  53. Patton, J. H., Stanford, M. S., & Barratt, E. S. (1995). Factor structure of the Barratt impulsiveness scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51(6), 768–774.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Petry, N. M., & Champine, R. (2012). Gambling and drug abuse. In J. Verster, K. Brady, M. Galanter, & P. Conrod (Eds.), Drug abuse and addiction in medical illness (pp. 489–496). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pilatti, A., & Tuzinkievich, F. (2015). Evaluation of the psychometric properties of the Gambling Motives Questionnaire in Argentinian young people. Adicciones, 27(1), 17–26.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Potenza, M. N., Steinberg, M. A., McLaughlin, S. D., Wu, R., Rounsaville, B. J., & O’Malley, S. S. (2001). Gender-related differences in the characteristics of problem gamblers using a gambling helpline. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158, 1500–1505.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Quinlan, C. K., Goldstein, A. L., & Stewart, S. H. (2013). An investigation of the link between gambling motives and social context of gambling in young adults. International Gambling Studies, 14(1), 115–131. Scholar
  58. Rawana, J. S., & Morgan, A. S. (2014). Trajectories of depressive symptoms from adolescence to young adulthood: The role of self-esteem and body-related predictors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43(4), 597–611. Scholar
  59. Rieger, S., Gollner, R., Trautwein, U., & Roberts, B. W. (2016). Low self-esteem prospectively predicts depression in the transition to young adulthood: A replication of Orth, Robins, and Roberts (2008). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 110(1), e16–e22. Scholar
  60. Rosenberg, E. R., Burt, K. B., Forehand, R. L., & Paysnick, A. A. (2016). Youth self-views, coping with stress, and behavioral/emotional problems: The role of incremental self-theory. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25, 1713–1723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Safipour, J., Schopflocher, D., Higginbottom, G., & Emami, A. (2011). The mediating role of alienation in self-reported health among Swedish adolescents. Vulnerable Groups & Inclusion, 2(1), 5805. Scholar
  62. Scholes-Balog, K. E., Hemphill, S. A., Toumbourou, J. W., & Dowling, N. A. (2016). Problem gambling patterns among Australian young adults: Associations with prospective risk and protective factors and adult adjustment. Addictive Behaviors, 55, 38–45. Scholar
  63. Spitzer, R. L., Kroenke, K., Williams, J. B. W., & Lowe, B. (2006). A brief measure of assessing generalized anxiety disorder. Archives of Internal Medicine, 166, 1092–1097.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Splevins, K., Mireskandari, S., Clayton, K., & Blaszczynski, A. (2010). Prevalence of adolescent problem gambling, related harms and help-seeking behaviours among an Australian population. Journal of Gambling Studies, 26(2), 189–204. Scholar
  65. Stewart, S. H., & Zack, M. (2008). Development and psychometric evaluation of a three-dimensional Gambling Motives Questionnaire. Addiction, 103(7), 1110–1117. Scholar
  66. Stinchfield, R., & Winters, K. C. (1998). Gambling and problem gambling among youths. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 556, 172–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Studer, J., Baggio, S., Mohler-Kuo, M., Simon, O., Daeppen, J. B., & Gmel, G. (2016). Latent class analysis of gambling activities in a sample of young Swiss men: Association with gambling problems, substance use outcomes, personality traits and coping strategies. Journal of Gambling Studies, 32(2), 421–440. Scholar
  68. Suomi, A., Dowling, N. A., & Jackson, A. C. (2014). Problem gambling subtypes based on psychological distress, alcohol abuse and impulsivity. Addictive Behaviors, 39(12), 1741–1745. Scholar
  69. Surtees, P. G., Wainwright, N. W. J., & Pharoah, P. D. P. (2002). Psychosocial factors and sex differences in high academic achievement at Cambridge University. Oxford Review of Education, 28(1), 21–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Tackett, J. L., Rodriguez, L. M., Rinker, D. V., & Neighbors, C. (2015). A personality-based latent class analysis of emerging adult gamblers. Journal of Gambling Studies, 31(4), 1337–1351. Scholar
  71. Tein, J. Y., Coxe, S., & Cham, H. (2013). Statistical power to detect the correct number of classes in latent profile analysis. Structural Equation Modeling, 20(4), 640–657. Scholar
  72. van Ginkel, J. R., & Kroonenberg, P. M. (2014). Analysis of variance of multiply imputed data. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 49(1), 78–91. Scholar
  73. Vitaro, F., Arseneault, L., & Tremblay, R. E. (1999). Impulsivity predicts problem gambling in low SES adolescent males. Addiction, 94(4), 565–575.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Volberg, R. A., Reitzes, D. C., & Boles, J. (1997). Exploring the links between gambling, problem gambling, and self-esteem. Deviant Behavior, 18(4), 321–342. Scholar
  75. White, H. R., & Labouvie, E. W. (1989). Towards the assessment of adolescent problem drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 50(1), 30–37.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations