Etiology of problem gambling in Canada

Psychol Addict Behav. 2022 Jul 4. doi: 10.1037/adb0000843. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To conduct a large-scale national cohort study to identify the current etiological risk factors for problem gambling in Canada.

Method: A cohort of 10,119 Canadian gamblers completed a comprehensive self-administered online questionnaire in 2018 and were reassessed in 2019. At baseline, the sample contained 1,388 at-risk gamblers, 1,346 problem gamblers, and 2,710 with a major DSM-5 mental health disorder. A total of 108 independent variables (IVs) were available for analysis, as well as the self-report of perceived causes of gambling-related problems for 1,261 individuals.

Results: The strongest multivariate predictors of current and future problem gambling were "gambling-related" variables (i.e., current and past problem gambling, intensive gambling involvement, playing electronic gambling machines (EGMs), gambling fallacies, socializing with other people having gambling-related problems, and family history of having gambling-related problems). Beyond gambling-related variables, greater impulsivity and lower household income were robustly predictive. Thirteen additional variables were either concurrently or prospectively predictive, but not both. In contrast to the many different quantitative predictors, self-reported causes tended to be singular and psychologically oriented (i.e., desire to win money, boredom, stress, poor self-control).

Conclusions: The predictors of problematic gambling in the present study are very similar to the predictors identified in prior international longitudinal and cross-sectional research. This implies core cross-cultural risk factors, with gambling-related variables and impulsivity being most important, and comorbidities and demographic variables having more modest contributions. The additional value of the present results is that they comprehensively identify the relative importance of all known etiologically relevant variables within a current Canadian context. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).