The prevalence of problem gambling in many countries necessitates research that examines factors influencing excessive and addictive consumption. We consider how social capital impacts gambling participation for a large representative sample of the Australian population. Specifically, we examine the association between social capital and gambling addiction using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. We address the endogeneity of social capital by instrumenting for social capital using an urban/rural reversed measure of ethnic diversity. Our main findings suggest that higher levels of social capital are associated with lower gambling risks measured by the Problem Gambling Severity Index. This general finding is robust to alternative ways of measuring social capital and gambling, and alternative estimation approaches. We also find that the effect of social capital is stronger in the case of problem gamblers compared to gamblers in other risk categories.
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APA Citation: Awaworyi Churchill, S. & Farrell, L. (2019). Social capital and gambling: Evidence from Australia. Journal of Gambling Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09901-9
Abstract: The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) is a screening instrument frequently used to identify risk and problem gambling. Even though the PGSI has good psychometric properties, it still produces a large proportion of misclassifications. Aims: To explore possible reasons for misclassifications in problem gambling level by analysing previously classified moderate-risk gamblers’ answers to the PGSI items, in relation to their own current and past gambling behaviours.
Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 19 participants reporting no negative consequences from gambling. They were asked the PGSI questions within an eight-year time frame (2008 to 2016). Ambiguous answers to PGSI items were subject to content analysis.
Results: Several answers to the PGSI items contained ambiguities and misinterpretations, making it difficult to assess to what extent their answers actually indicated any problematic gambling over time. The item about feelings of guilt generated accounts rather reflecting self-recrimination over wasting money or regretting gambling as a meaningless or immoral activity. The item concerning critique involved mild interpretations such as being ridiculed for buying lottery tickets or getting comments for being boring. Similar accounts were given by the participants irrespective of initial
endorsement of the items. Other possible reasons for misclassifications were related to recall bias, language difficulties, selective memory, and a tendency to answer one part of the question without taking the whole question into account.
Conclusions: Answers to the PGSI can contain a variety of meanings based on the respondents’ subjective interpretations. Reports of lower levels of harm in the population should thus be interpreted with caution. In clinical settings it is important to combine use of screening instruments with interviews, to be able to better understand gamblers’ perceptions of the gambling behaviour and its negative consequences.
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Reference: Samuelsson, E., Wennberg, P., & Sundqvist, K. (2019). Gamblers’ (mis-)interpretations of Problem Gambling Severity Index items: Ambiguities in qualitative accounts from the Swedish longitudinal gambling study. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 36(2), 140–160. DOI: 10.1177/1455072519829407
Instead of regarding a particular type of gambling activity (for example, electronic gambling machines, table games) as an isolated factor for problem gambling, recent research suggests that gambling involvement (for example, as measured by the number of different types of gambling activities played) should also be considered. Using a large sample of the Victorian adult population, this study found that the strength of association between problem gambling and the type of gambling reduced after adjusting for gambling involvement. This finding supports recent research that gambling involvement is an important factor in assessing the risk of problem gambling. The study also provides insights into the measurements of gambling involvement and provides alternative statistical modelling to analyse problem gambling.
Source: Yeung, K., & Wraith, D. (2015). Considering Gambling Involvement in the Understanding of Problem Gambling: A Large Cross-Sectional Study of an Australian Population. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.