Expert Commentary

Pathological gambling among a sample of casino patrons

2011 study by the University of California, Los Angeles, published in the Journal of Gambling Studies on gaming habits as reported in a casino setting.

Gamblers (iStock)

Research on the gambling industry has increased in recent years as more states have considered or enacted plans to permit the building of casinos or to allow other forms of gambling. Still, there has been relatively little on-site research chronicling gambling behavior at casinos themselves.

A 2011 study from UCLA published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, “Problem and Pathological Gambling in a Sample of Casino Patrons,” surveyed 176 gamblers at a casino site in southern California to assess their habits and associated lifestyle and health outcomes. The data were based on the gamblers’ self-reporting on anonymous questionnaires. The survey took place over a three-day, round-the-clock period; its sample was 78% male and 69% Caucasian.

The study’s major findings include:

  • Of those surveyed on site, 54 (30.3%) were classified as non-problem gamblers, 52 (29.2%) were at-risk gamblers, 19 (10.7%) were problem gamblers, and 53 (29.8%) were pathological gamblers.
  • Overall, more than 40% of casino patrons reported experiencing at least three serious gambling-related symptoms in their lifetime.
  • Among the pathological gamblers, 61.8% reported that they gambled to make money.
  • Self-identified smokers had a higher probability of being classified as problem or pathological gamblers than those who reported not smoking.
  • Pathological gambling did not have a significantly higher association with alcohol use or with poorer self-rated health levels.

The researchers conclude that “given the potentially high rate of gambling problems among casino patrons, there is a need for formal prevention and intervention measures in casino settings.”

Tags: addiction, entertainment, gambling, tobacco

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