A case of mistaken identity? A comparison of professional and amateur problem gamblers

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Hing, N, Russell, AMT, Gainsbury, SM & Blaszczynski, A 2016 , 'A case of mistaken identity? A comparison of professional and amateur problem gamblers', Journal of Gambling Studies, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 277-289.

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Peer Reviewed



Professional gamblers are more likely than amateur gamblers to meet criteria for problem gambling but minimal research has examined their gambling behavior and its con- sequences. This study compared gambling behavior, problem gambling symptoms, related harms, recognition, and help-seeking among problem semi/professional gamblers (PPGs/ PSPGs) and problem amateur gamblers (PAGs). Surveys completed by 57 self-identified professional gamblers, 311 semi-professional gamblers and 4226 amateur gamblers were analysed. PPGs/PSPGs were significantly more likely than PAGs to be male, younger, never married, speak a language other than English at home, and have higher psychological distress, compared to PAGs. PPGs/PSPGs were more likely to gamble more frequently onmany skills- based forms, but most also participated in several chance-based forms. PPGs’/PSPGs’ most common problematic gambling form was electronic gaming machines and they were more likely to have problems with sports betting than PAGs. Most PPGs/PSPGs reported coming out behind on all gambling forms over the previous year. PPGs/PSPGs weremore likely than PAGs to report chasing losses and numerous detrimental financial gambling consequences. This group’s self-identification as PPGs/PSPGs is clearly inaccurate and perhaps a means to avoid stigma, elevate status and support problem denial. PPGs/PSPGs may represent an extreme example of gamblers with erroneous cognitions and beliefswho lack the required discipline and skill to be successful professional gamblers. The findings identify a group of problem gamblers who may benefit from interventions to dispel their mistaken self-identity, and emphasize the need for more rigorous confirmation of professional gambler status in future research.