Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 1391–1406 | Cite as

Betting on Life: Associations Between Significant Life Events and Gambling Trajectories Among Gamblers with the Intent to Quit

  • Alexandra Godinho
  • Vladyslav Kushnir
  • David C. Hodgins
  • Christian S. Hendershot
  • John A. Cunningham
Original Paper


Considerable evidence has suggested that problem gambling may be transitory and episodic, with gamblers routinely moving in and out of clinical thresholds. Findings in qualitative and quantitative studies have converged on identifying preliminary evidence for the role of life events as motivators and contributing factors for gambling changes over time. The aim of this study was to conduct an exploratory analysis of the relationship between life events, their respective experience as positive or negative, and gambling trajectories among problem gamblers intending to quit. Life event occurrence and ratings as positive or negative, and changes in gambling severity were analyzed over a 12-month period for 204 adult problem gamblers intending to reduce or quit their gambling. Overall, mixed effects models revealed several relationships between life events and both the magnitude and direction of gambling change over time. In particular, gamblers who experienced a greater number of positive events or specific events such as legal events, the adoption/loss of a child, or negative changes to their social relationships, finances, work environments or social/health activities were more likely to exhibit greater gambling reductions over time. Conversely, gamblers who experienced a greater number of negative events, such as family bereavement, the dissolution of a marriage, or negative changes to their residence exhibited smaller gambling reductions or increases in gambling severity. Possible mechanisms which may explain the findings and the importance of examining the subjective experience of life events are discussed. Recommendations for future studies examining associations between life events and gambling trajectories are provided.


Gambling trajectory Life events Problem gambling Prospective 



This work was supported by Gambling Research Exchange Ontario. The organization did not have a role in the study design; collection, analysis and interpretation of data; as well as in writing the article and decision to submit the article for publication. We thank Marcos Sanches for his assistance with statistical analyses.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10899_2018_9767_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 33 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra Godinho
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vladyslav Kushnir
    • 1
    • 3
  • David C. Hodgins
    • 4
  • Christian S. Hendershot
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  • John A. Cunningham
    • 1
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Institute for Mental Health Policy ResearchCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Leslie Dan Faculty of PharmacyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  5. 5.Campbell Family Mental Health Research InstituteCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  7. 7.National Institute for Mental Health ResearchAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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