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Contrasting effects of gambling consumption and gambling problems on subjective wellbeing
journal contributionposted on 22.08.2019, 00:00 by A Blackman, Matthew Browne, Matthew Rockloff, Nerilee Hing, Alexander Russell
Most research on gambling focuses on the negative consequences associated with excessive consumption, which implicitly leads to a reduction in health and wellbeing. However, few studies have measured subjective wellbeing with respect to gambling involvement, and almost none has attempted to distinguish the separate effects of consumption and problems. We used the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) in two surveys with different recruitment criteria. Study 1 (N = 1524, 50.6% female) was designed to compare differences in personal wellbeing among gamblers, and Study 2 (N = 1586, 70.2% female) compared wellbeing between gamblers and non-gamblers. Participants provided demographic information, and answered questions allowing them to be grouped into high/low levels of consumption, and problem gambling risk categories. After accounting for gambling problems, higher consumption was associated with higher wellbeing. Study 2 showed consistent results; revealing that both high and low consumption non-problem gamblers (NPGs) had higher personal wellbeing than non-gamblers. Nevertheless, the deleterious effect of gambling problems on wellbeing was larger than the effect of consumption. After accounting for population prevalence (i.e., per capita), only 15.3% of the negative influence of gambling problems on PWI was attributable to problem gamblers; the remainder associated with lower risk categories. Although results were consistent when controlling for demographic covariates, the positive link between consumption and wellbeing may be due to unmeasured variables such as personality traits, health, and socioeconomic status. Nevertheless, the assessment of subjective wellbeing provides a unique perspective on both the positive and negative effects of gambling.