Online Gambling in Iranian Social Media Users: Prevalence, Related Variables and Psychiatric Correlations

J Gambl Stud. 2022 Jun;38(2):397-409. doi: 10.1007/s10899-021-10020-7. Epub 2021 Mar 20.

Abstract

The exponential increase in Internet use has been associated with dangers and harms. Recently, the prevalence of online gambling is increasing in various countries. Online gambling can be a prelude to gambling disorder. No study has been conducted in this field in Iran yet. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of online gambling (without disorder and pathological), and its relationship with demographic variables and psychiatric symptoms. 3252 people participated in this study online. Research tools included gambling disorder screening questionnaire-Persian (GDSQ-P), brief symptom inventory (BSI), Young's addiction questionnaire, and Demographic questionnaire. The prevalence of online gambling was 8.9%. 26.6% of online gamblers experience moderate to severe degrees of pathological gambling. 74.7% of online gamblers were male. Online gamblers have a lower mean age than non-online gamblers (p < 0.001). Online gamblers were equally from all economic classes. The most common methods of gambling were CRASH game and sports betting. Online gamblers had no significant difference in the rate of face-to-face (physical) gambling history, compared to non-online gamblers (6.9% vs 5.6%), (p > 0.05). In BSI-assessed psychiatric symptoms, online gamblers showed higher scores on anxiety and obsession, and lower scores on paranoid ideation, compared to the control group (p < 0.05). Also, Internet addiction and daily use of the Internet as entertainment were significantly higher in online gamblers than non-online gamblers (p < 0.05). Also, a positive and significant correlation was found between the severity of gambling and the severity of Internet addiction, severity of depression, severity of anxiety, and severity of obsession in online gamblers (p < 0.05). Overall, online gambling is common in Iran and is associated with psychiatric problems. Health professionals and the government should pay special attention to online gambling and its related problems.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Gambling; Internet; Prevalence.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive* / epidemiology
  • Behavior, Addictive* / psychology
  • Female
  • Gambling* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Social Media*