Public Stigma Across Addictive Behaviors: Casino Gambling, eSports Gambling, and Internet Gaming

  • Samuel C. PeterEmail author
  • Qian Li
  • Rory A. Pfund
  • James P. Whelan
  • Andrew W. Meyers
Original Paper


The negative psychological effects of public stigma on disordered gamblers have been well documented. Public stigma deters treatment-seeking and other help-seeking behaviors, and negatively impacts individuals’ view of themselves. Different types of disordered gambling activities may attract different degrees of stigma. One increasingly popular form of gambling involves placing bets on the outcomes of competitive video games, also called eSports gambling. This activity shares characteristics with Internet gaming and gambling. The purpose of this study was to compare the degree of public stigma held towards traditional casino gamblers, eSports gamblers, and Internet gamers, as compared to an individual experiencing comparable levels of impairment and distress due to a financial crisis. Using an experimental between-groups vignette study design, we found that all three types of behavioral addictions were more heavily stigmatized than the control condition. The three behavioral addictions were seen as being highly controllable, engendered a significant amount of anger and blame, and resulted in higher levels of desired social distance. Traditional casino gamblers were seen as significantly more dangerous to be around and created a higher level of desired social distance than the Internet gamer. Differences between the Internet gamer and eSports better were less pronounced. These findings underscore the importance of reducing public stigma for gambling and other behavioral addictions, and provide information that can be used when developing interventions to impact stigma.


Stigma Internet gaming Gambling eSports 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments and comparable ethical standards.


  1. Abarbanel, B., Blum, B., Grove, C., Knuth, C., Schorr, S., & Sood, R. (2016, June). The future of gambling spaces: eSports and the world of competitive video gaming. Keynote panel presented at the International Conference on Gambling & Risk Taking.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Argyriou, E., Davison, C. B., & Lee, T. T. (2017). Response inhibition and Internet gaming disorder: A meta-analysis. Addictive Behaviors, 71, 54–60.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Corrigan, P. W., Green, A., Lundin, R., Kubiak, M. A., & Penn, D. L. (2001). Familiarity with and social distance from people who have serious mental illness. Psychiatric Services, 52, 953–958.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Corrigan, P., Markowitz, F. E., Watson, A., Rowan, D., & Kubiak, M. A. (2003). An attribution model of public discrimination towards persons with mental illness. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 44, 162–179.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Dhillon, J., Horch, J. D., & Hodgins, D. C. (2011). Cultural influences on stigmatization of problem gambling: East Asian and Caucasian Canadians. Journal of Gambling Studies, 27, 633–647.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Dullur, P., & Hay, P. (2017). Problem Internet use and Internet gaming disorder: A survey of health literacy among psychiatrists from Australia and New Zealand. Australasian Psychiatry, 25, 140–145.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Gouker, D. (2016). Place your eSports bets in Las Vegas: Downtown Grand, William Hill to offer first legal wagers in US. Retrieved July 01, 2017, from
  9. Grove, C. (2016). eEportsbook betting: Overview And FAQ. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from
  10. Hamari, J., & Sjöblom, M. (2016). What is eSports and why do people watch it? Internet Research, 27(2), 211–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hing, N., Holdsworth, L., Tiyce, M., & Breen, H. (2014). Stigma and problem gambling: Current knowledge and future research directions. International Gambling Studies, 14, 64–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hing, N., Nuske, E., Gainsbury, S. M., & Russell, A. T. (2016a). Perceived stigma and self-stigma of problem gambling: Perspectives of people with gambling problems. International Gambling Studies, 16, 31–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hing, N., Nuske, E., Gainsbury, S. M., Russell, A. T., & Breen, H. (2016b). How does the stigma of problem gambling influence help-seeking, treatment and recovery? A view from the counselling sector. International Gambling Studies, 16, 263–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hing, N., Russell, A. T., Gainsbury, S. M., & Nuske, E. (2016c). The public stigma of problem gambling: Its nature and relative intensity compared to other health conditions. Journal of Gambling Studies, 32(3), 847–864.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Hodgins, D. C., & El-Guebaly, N. (2000). Natural and treatment-assisted recovery from gambling problems: A comparison of resolved and active gamblers. Addiction, 95(5), 777–789.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Holmes, E. P., Corrigan, P. W., Williams, P., Canar, J., & Kubiak, M. A. (1999). Changing attitudes about schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 25, 447–456.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Hongsik, Y., & Jaehee, C. (2016). Prevalence of Internet gaming disorder among Korean adolescents and associations with non-psychotic psychological symptoms, and physical aggression. American Journal of Health Behavior, 40, 705–716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Horch, J. D., & Hodgins, D. C. (2008). Public stigma of disordered gambling: Social distance, dangerousness, and familiarity. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 27(5), 505–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Horch, J., & Hodgins, D. (2013). Stereotypes of problem gambling. Journal of Gambling Issues, 28, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. King, D. L., Gainsbury, S. M., Delfabbro, P. H., Hing, N., & Abarbanel, B. (2015). Distinguishing between gaming and gambling activities in addiction research. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 4, 215–220.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Lachin, J. M., Matts, J. P., & Wei, L. J. (1988). Randomization in clinical trials: Conclusions and recommendations. Controlled Clinical Trials, 9, 365–374.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Link, B. G., Cullen, F. T., Frank, J., & Wozniak, J. F. (1987). The social rejection of former mental patients: Understanding why labels matter. American Journal of Sociology, 92, 1461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McNamara, D. S., Louwerse, M. M., Cai, Z., & Graesser, A. (2005, January 1). Coh-Metrix version 1.4. Retrieved from
  24. Newzoo. (2016, January). Global eSports market report: Revenues to jump to $463M in 2016 as US leads the way. Retrieved from
  25. Oppenheimer, D. M., Meyvis, T., & Davidenko, N. (2009). Instructional manipulation checks: Detecting satisficing to increase statistical power. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(4), 867–872.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tavares, H., Martins, S. S., Zilberman, M. L., & El-Guebaly, N. (2002). Gamblers seeking treatment: Why haven’t they come earlier? Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment, 1, 65–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zajac, K., Ginley, M. K., Chang, R., & Petry, N. M. (2017). Treatments for Internet gaming disorder and Internet addiction: A systematic review. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 31(8), 979–994.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel C. Peter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Qian Li
    • 1
  • Rory A. Pfund
    • 1
  • James P. Whelan
    • 1
  • Andrew W. Meyers
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Gambling Education and ResearchThe University of MemphisMemphisUSA

Personalised recommendations