The effect of pathological gambling on families, marriages, and children

CNS Spectr. 2007 Aug;12(8):615-22. doi: 10.1017/s1092852900021416.


Pathological gambling (PG) is widely reported to have negative consequences on marriages, families, and children. Empirical evidence is only now accumulating but when put together with anecdotal information, the extent of these problems is clear. PG contributes to chaos and dysfunction within the family unit, disrupts marriages, leading to high rates of separation and divorce, and is associated with child abuse and neglect. Divorce rates are high, not surprising in light of reports that these marriages are often abusive. Research shows that the families of pathological gamblers are filled with members who gamble excessively, suffer from depressive or anxiety disorders, and misuse alcohol, drugs, or both. Families of persons with PG are also large, a variable independently related to family dysfunction. The authors review the evidence on the impact of PG on families, marriages, and offspring, and make recommendations for future research targeting these problems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / genetics
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology*
  • Divorce / psychology
  • Divorce / statistics & numerical data
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Statistics as Topic