Factors Associated with the Severity of Gambling Problems in a Community Gambling Treatment Agency

  • Raylu Namrata
  • Tian P. S. Oei


Factors (demographics, gambling behaviors and comorbid problems) that may be related to the severity of gambling problems were investigated among 440 problem gamblers seeking treatment in an Australian outpatient treatment agency. The participants were divided into sub-threshold pathological gamblers (SPGs; N = 104) and pathological gamblers (PGs; N = 336) using Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) IV diagnosis of pathological gambling. SPGs were more likely to be separated/divorced, while PGs were more likely to be single. PGs tended to be younger than SPGs. Participation in lottery games was the only form of gambling that could distinguish between the two severity groups. No significant differences were found in participation in more than one gambling session per week and average amount spent per session on various gambling activities between the two groups. PGs were more likely to report financial, relationship, employment, physical, intrapersonal, other excessive behaviors (e.g., substance problems), leisure (e.g., loneliness, boredom) and legal problems than SPGs. Implications and limitations of these findings are discussed.


Problem gambling Severity Comorbid Outpatient Treatment Gambling 



We would like to thank Break Even, Relationships Australia and the Department of Family Services, Queensland for making the data available. In particular we would like to thank Gail Solcombe, Mary Marquass and Ian McDonald for their assistance.


  1. Alessi, S. M., & Petry, N. M. (2003). Pathological gambling severity is associated with impulsivity in a delay discounting procedure. Behavioural Processes, 64(3), 345–354.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. American Psychological Association (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, (4th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric.Google Scholar
  3. Aymami, M., Ibanez, A., & Jimenez, S. (1999). Epidemiology of pathological gambling in a professional treatment program. Anuario de Psicologia, 30(4), 21–31.Google Scholar
  4. Becona, E., Del-Carmen-Lorenzo, M., & Fuentes, M. J. (1996). Pathological gambling and depression. Psychological Reports, 78(2), 635–640.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Blaszczynski, A., & Steel, Z. (1998). Personality disorders among pathological gamblers. Journal of Gambling Studies, 14(1), 51–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blaszczynski, A., Steel, Z., & McConaghy, N. (1997). Impulsivity in pathological gambling: the antisocial impulsivist. Addiction, 92(1), 75–87.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burge, A. N., Pietrzak, R. H., Molina, C. A., & Petry, N. M. (2004). Age of gambling initiation and severity of gambling and health problems among older adult problem gamblers. Psychiatric Services, 55(12), 1437–1439.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ciarrocchi, J. W., & Richardson, R. (1989). Profile of compulsive gamblers in treatment: update and comparisons. Journal of Gambling Behavior, 5(1), 53–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Coulombe, A., Ladouceur, R., Desharnais, R., & Jobin, J. (1992). Erroneous perceptions and arousal among regular and occasional video poker players. Journal of Gambling Studies, 8, 235–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cox, B. J., Kwong, J., Michaud, V., & Enns, M. W. (2000). Problem and probable pathological gambling. Considerations form a community survey. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 45(6), 548–533.Google Scholar
  11. Delfabbro, P. H. (2004). The stubborn logic of regular gamblers: Obstacles and dilemmas in cognitive gambling research. Journal of Gambling Studies, 20, 1–21.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dickerson, M. G. (1993). Internal and external determinants of persistent gambling: problems in generalising from one form of gambling to another. Journal of Gambling Studies, 9(3), 225–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fernández-Montalvo, J., & Echeburúa, E. (2004). Pathological gambling and personality disorders: an exploratory study with the IPDE. Journal of Personality Disorders, 18(5), 500–505.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Fernandez-Montalvo, J., Echeburura, E., & Baez, C. (1999). Personality and intelligence factors in slot machine pathological gamblers. Psicologia Conductual, 7(3), 349–360.Google Scholar
  15. Ferris J., & Wynne, H. (2001). The Canadian Problem Gambling Index: final Report. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.Google Scholar
  16. Gaboury, A., & Ladouceur, R. (1989). Erroneous perceptions and gambling. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 4, 411–420.Google Scholar
  17. Greco, G., & Judeth, M. (2002). Trauma history, dissociation, and female video poker gambling: a correlational an experimental study. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences & Engineering, 62(8B), 3801.Google Scholar
  18. Hall, G. W., Carriero, N. J., Takushi, R. Y., Montoya, I. D., Preston, K. L., & Gorelick, D. A. (2000). Pathological gambling among cocaine-dependent outpatients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157(7), 1127–1133.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hodgins, D. C., & el-Guebaly, N. (2000). Natural and treatment assisted recovery from gambling problems: comparison of resolved and active gamblers. Addiction, 95(5), 777–789.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ibanez, A., Blanco, C., Donahue, E., Lesieur, H. R., Perez de Castro, I., Fernandez-Piqueras, J., et al. (2001). Psychiatric comorbidity in pathological gamblers seeking treatment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158(10), 1733–1735.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ibanez, A., Blanco, C., Morerya, P., & Saiz-Ruiz, J. (2003). Gender differences in pathological gambling. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 64(3), 295–301.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kaminer, Y., Burleson, J. A., & Jadamec, A. (2002). Gambling behavior in adolescent substance abuse. Substance Abuse, 23(3), 191–198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ladd, G. T., & Petry, N. M. (2002). Gender differences among pathological gamblers seeking treatment. Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology, 10(3), 302–309.Google Scholar
  24. Ladd, G. T., & Petry, N. M. (2003). A comparison of pathological gamblers with and without substance abuse treatment histories. Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology, 11(3), 202–209.Google Scholar
  25. Ledgerwood, D. M., & Petry, N. M. (2004). Gambling and suicidality in treatment-seeking pathological gamblers. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 192(10), 711–714.Google Scholar
  26. Ledgerwood, D., & Petry, N. M. (2006). Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in treatment-seeking pathological gamblers. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 19(3), 411–416.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lesieur, H. R., & Blume, S. B. (1987). The South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS): a new instrument for the identification of pathological gamblers. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144(9), 1184–1188.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Lovibond, S. H., & Lovibond, P. F. (1995). The structure of negative emotional states: comparison of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. Behaviour, Research & Therapy, 33, 335–343.Google Scholar
  29. Maccallum, F., & Blaszcznski, A. (2003). Pathological gambling and suicidality: an analysis and lethality. Suicide & Life Threatening Behavior, 33(1), 88–98.Google Scholar
  30. McLellan, A. T., Luborsky, L., O’Brien, C. P., & Woody, G. E. (1980). An improved diagnostic instrument for substance abuse patients: the Addiction Severity Index. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disorders, 168, 26–33.Google Scholar
  31. McLellan, A. T., Kushner, H., Metzger, D., Peters, F., et al. (1992). The fifth edition of the Addiction Severity Index. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 9, 199–213.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nower, L. M. (2001). Taking risks: the relationship of impulsivity, sensation seeking, stress-coping, and substance use in youth gamblers. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 62(1A), 332.Google Scholar
  33. Peltzer, K., Mabilu, M. G., Mathoho, S. F., Nekhwevha, A. P., Sikhwivhilu, T., & Sinthumule, T. S. (2006). Trauma history and severity of gambling involvement among horse-race gamblers in a South African gambling setting. Psychological Reports, 99(2), 472–476.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Petry, N. M. (2003). A comparison of treatment-seeking pathological gamblers based on preferred gambling activity. Addiction, 98(5), 645–655.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Petry, N. M., & Oncken, C. (2002). Cigarette smoking is associated with increased severity of gambling problems in treatment seeking gamblers. Addiction, 97(6), 745–753.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Petry, N. M., & Kiluk, B. D. (2002). Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in treatment-seeking pathological gamblers. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 190(7), 462–469.Google Scholar
  37. Petry, N. M., & Tawif, Z. (2001). Comparison of problem gambling and non problem gambling youths seeking treatment for marijuana abuse. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(11), 1324–1331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 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(9), 1500–1505.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Raylu, N., & Oei, T. P. S. (2002). Pathological gambling: a comprehensive review. Clinical Psychology Review, 22(7), 1009–1061.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Raylu, N., & Oei, T. P. S. (2004a). Role of culture in gambling and problem gambling. Clinical Psychology Review, 23(8), 1087–1114.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Raylu, N., & Oei, T. P. S. (2004b). The Gambling Related Cognitions Scale (GRCS): development, confirmatory factor validation and psychometric properties. Addiction, 99(6), 757–769.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sproston, K., Ernst, B., & Orford, J. (2000). Gambling behaviour in Britain: Results from the British Gambling Prevalence Survey. London: National Centre for Social Research.Google Scholar
  43. Steel, Z., & Blaszczynski, A. (1998). Impulsivity, personality disorders and pathological gambling severity. Addiction, 93(6), 895–905.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stinchfield, R., & Winters, K. (2001). Outcome of Minnesota’s gambling treatment programs. Journal of Gambling Studies, 17(3), 217–245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Walker, M. B. (1992). Irrational thinking among slot machine players. Journal of Gambling Studies, 8(3), 245–261.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations