Concurrent Disorders and Decision-Making in Electronic Gaming Machine Gamblers

J Gambl Stud. 2022 Jun;38(2):499-514. doi: 10.1007/s10899-021-10044-z. Epub 2021 Jun 14.


This study aimed to investigate the self-reported measures of concurrent disorders (stress, social anxiety, anxiety, depression and alcohol use) among electronic gaming machine (EGM) gamblers with varying levels of gambling severity and to examine its relationship to decision-making. This cross-sectional study in New Zealand involved an online survey that utilised validated questionnaires to assess self-reported measures of concurrent disorders and the Iowa gambling task (IGT) to analyse decision-making. The study comprised of active EGM gamblers (n = 153) who were divided into two groups: non-problem gambling (NPG, n = 71) and problem gambling (PG, n = 82) based on the cut-off point of the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS). Multiple logistic regression models were performed to analyse co-occurring disorders separately and simultaneously, and a log-linear model was developed to define the associations between significant variables. The first model showed a strong correlation between gambling severity and measures for depression (p < 0.01), anxiety (p < 0.05), stress (p < 0.05) and alcohol use (p < 0.01), however only depression (p < 0.05) and alcohol use (p < 0.01) remained significant in the second model. Further, no association between social anxiety scores and problem gambling was found in this sample of EGM gamblers in both models. On the IGT, EGM gamblers in the PG group performed significantly worse. Further, the presence of poor decision-making was more pronounced with higher depression scores (p < 0.01) across both NPG and PG groups and higher alcohol use scores (p < 0.05) scores in the PG group. The presence of high levels of co-occurring disorders and its link to poor decision-making are important considerations in the treatment paradigm of EGM problem gamblers.

Keywords: Alcohol use; Anxiety; Decision-making; Depression; Electronic gaming machine (EGM); Problem gambling.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronics
  • Gambling* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Video Games*