Gambling in emerging adulthood: The role of adolescent depressive symptoms, antisocial behaviors, and alcohol use [subscription-access article]

Abstract: Emerging adults (ages 18–29) display higher prevalence of gambling participation and problem gambling as well as co-occurrence with other risk behaviors compared to other age groups. Consequences of these co-occurring conditions may lead to psychological symptoms, behavioral problems, and socioeconomic and medical costs. Depressive symptoms, antisocial behaviors, and alcohol use are known risk factors for gambling participation and problem gambling. However, scarce research has examined the co-occurrence of those adolescent risk factors and later gambling behaviors in emerging adulthood longitudinally. Using multiple waves of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) data, we examined the relationship between earlier depressive symptoms, antisocial behaviors, alcohol use, and gambling behaviors at wave III, and later gambling participation and problem gambling (wave IV) in emerging adults ages 18–29, using multinomial logistic regression. Our findings suggest that earlier antisocial behaviors and gambling behaviors increased later risk for gambling participation and problem gambling. Past-year alcohol use and heavy drinking were associated with the increased risk of gambling participation but not problem gambling. Earlier depressive symptoms decreased the risk of gambling participation later among those who endorsed antisocial behaviors. Emerging adulthood may be a critical developmental period in the development of comorbid conditions of gambling and other risk behaviors. The results contribute evidence supporting the importance of early prevention and intervention for the co-occurrence of gambling and other risk behaviors in emerging adulthood. Article details and access conditions

Reference: Jun, HJ., Sacco, P. & Cunningham-Williams, R.M. (2019). Gambling in emerging adulthood: The role of adolescent depressive symptoms, antisocial behaviors, and alcohol use. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.


How to support prison workers’ perceived readiness to identify and respond to possible gambling problems: A pilot study from two Finnish prisons [open-access article]

Problem gambling is known to be prevalent among prisoners. However, it is not systematically screened and often remains undetected. This pilot study explores prison workers’ (N = 21) knowledge, views, and opinions about problem gambling in two Finnish prisons with a view to improving training and to developing better guidelines for identifying and responding to gambling problems. Four-fifths (81%) of prison workers considered problem gambling a serious issue in Finland. During the past year, more than nine in ten (94.1%) had encountered a prisoner with a gambling problem. Problem gambling was identified in connection with discussions about prisoners’ illegal activity (50%), financial situation (25%), or other problems (25%). Nearly half of the participants felt they did not have adequate training or information about problem gambling and related issues and expressed an interest in continuing education. This pilot study provides important direction for the development of tailored training programs for prison workers. The next step is to increase awareness of gambling programs in a wider national context and to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of training programs. Article available online

Reference: Castrén, S., Lind, K., Järvinen-Tassopoulos, J. et al. (2019). How to support prison workers’ perceived readiness to identify and respond to possible gambling problems: A pilot study from two Finnish prisons. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

Information technology usage as a moderator between disordered gambling, internet gaming addiction, and illusory control [subscription access article]

Abstract: This study tested the hypothesis as to whether the mode and time of information technology use—such as using various electronic and computing devices for gambling and collecting information related to gambling—can positively predict disordered gambling, with the effects of Internet gaming addiction and illusory control being taken into account.

A questionnaire set was administered to 677 Hong Kong secondary school students to assess their maladaptive gambling behavior, Internet gaming addiction, illusory control, and the habit of information technology use, such as the amount of time spent on watching television, browsing the Internet, and playing online gambling and non-gambling games. The results suggest that utilizing computing and electronic devices for gambling-related activities is positively indicative of disordered gambling, making use of information technology for work or study being a buffering factor.

Utilizing information technology for non-gambling activities—such as the durations of playing non-gambling games and making non-gambling purchases online—is not related to disordered gambling, albeit their positive correlations with Internet gaming addiction. Likewise, Internet gaming addiction has no association with using information technology devices for any gambling-related activities, except its very small correlation with playing online gambling games.

In addition, tablet computers may provide a convenient means for gambling activities and tend to be used by problem gamblers. It is recommended that intervention strategies targeted at secondary school students should address not only the amount of use but also the way they use information technology devices. Article details and access conditions

Yu, Calvin Kai-Ching & Fu, Wai. (2018). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

An analysis of consumer protection for gamblers across different online gambling operators in Ireland: A descriptive study [open access article]

Cooney, C., Columb, D., Costa, J. et al. (2018). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. doi:

Abstract: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the responsible gambling tools which are available to online gamblers at Irish online gambling websites. The present study used a similar methodology to a recent study carried out on the world’s most popular websites (Bonello and Griffiths Gaming Law Review and Economics, 21, 278–285, 2017), where 50 of the most advertised online gambling websites were evaluated in relation to their responsible gambling (RG) practices. The present study evaluated 39 gambling websites with either a “.ie” or “.com/ie” domain. Each website was evaluated by checking for a number of RG practices, including presence of a dedicated RG page; age verification; access to gambling account history; the availability of RG tools, such as limit setting facilities and exclusion settings; and links to limit-setting options on the deposit page. Descriptive statistics were then performed on the results from each website. Of the 39 online gambling operators identified, 22 redirected gamblers to a “.com” domain, while 17 operators remained as a “.ie” domain. Thirty-five websites (89.7%) visited had a dedicated RG page. Responsible gambling features were evaluated and demonstrated to be available in an inconsistent manner across online gambling websites. Irish websites were shown to perform poorly in comparison with non-Irish counterparts in the provision of RG tools. The researchers of the present study are not aware of any similar studies conducted to date in Ireland. Access full article

The “Zone”: a qualitative exploratory study of an altered state of awareness in electronic gaming machine problem gambling [subscription access article]

Oakes, J., Pols, R., Lawn, S. et al. (2018). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. doi:

Abstract: This paper reports a state of mind described by electronic gaming machine (EGM) problem gamblers (PGs) as the “zone”. Twenty-nine PGs engaged in focus groups and in-depth interviews. Participants described an altered state of awareness: the zone, which was highly desirable providing relief from negative emotions. PGs had difficulty recalling experiences whilst in the zone but described a constriction of attention, awareness and impairment of cognitive functions. During this time, the PG could not think critically, exercise self-observation, realistically appraise the use of money, see the consequences of their actions, exercise the will to cease gambling or learn from harms. Memory was impaired, as was decision-making and the capacity to make rational choices. Understanding the zone may provide insight into treatment where the capacity to learn may be reduced. Further research is needed to determine what proportions of EGM gamblers experience the zone and if this occurs with non-EGM gamblers. Article and access details

‘I’ll just pay the rent next month’: an exploratory study examining facilitatory cognitions among EGM problem gamblers (subscription access article)

Jane Oakes, Rene Pols, Sharon Lawn, Malcolm Battersby, Dan Lubman. (2018) International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. doi: 10.1007/s11469-018-9948-y

Clinical studies of problem gamblers (PGs) highlight the role of erroneous cognitions during problematic gambling, yet little is known about the role of cognitions in the maintenance of gambling problems. Twenty-nine electronic gaming machine (EGM) PGs engaged in focus groups and in-depth interviews, with a focus on understanding the relapse process in EGM gambling. Three themes and nine subthemes related to facilitatory cognitions were described; (i) creating available money (paying only essential bills, pokies money is not real money), (ii) minimising gambling as a problem (pseudo-control, ignoring harms), and (iii) struggling with overwhelming emotions. This paper expands our understanding of gambling cognitions and argues cognitions activated during problem gambling are more complicated than considered to date. These findings inform current cognitive therapy approaches by identifying a more comprehensive suite of erroneous cognitions. Addressing these cognitions may assist gamblers to maintain critical thinking about their decision to gamble, thus reducing their risk of relapse. Article details and references

Impulsivity and problem gambling: can the anticipated emotional rewards explain the relationship? (subscription access article)

Flack, M. & Buckby, B. (2018). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

Gambling behaviors tend to increase in prevalence from late adolescence to young adulthood, and the underlying genetic and environmental influences during this period remain largely understudied. We examined the genetic and environmental influences on gambling behaviors contributing to stability and change from ages 18 to 25 in a longitudinal, behavioral genetic mixed-sex twin study design. Participants were enrolled in the Minnesota Twin Family Study. A range of gambling behaviors (maximum frequency, average frequency, money lost, and gambling problems) were assessed at ages 18 and 25. The results of our study support the following conclusions: (a) the genetic and environmental factors impacting a range of gambling behaviors are largely similar in men and women, (b) genetic factors increase in influence from 18 to 25 (21% at age 18 to 57% at age 25), (c) shared environmental factors are influential at age 18, but tend to decrease from ages 18 to 25 (55% at age 18 to 10% at age 25), and (d) nonshared environmental influences are similarly significant and are small to moderate in magnitude at both ages. The findings add to a small yet important research area regarding determinants of youth gambling behaviors and have the potential to inform prevention and intervention efforts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved). Article details and references