What’s in a name? assessing the accuracy of self-identifying as a professional or semi-professional gambler

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Hing, N, Russell, A, Blaszczynski, A., & Gainsbury, SM 2015, 'What’s in a name? Assessing the accuracy of self-identifying as a professional or semi-professional gambler', Journal of Gambling Studies, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 1799-1818.

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Growing interest in pursuing a professional gambling career has been accompanied by a rise in individuals self-identifying as professional gamblers. Whether this trend reflects an actual increase in individuals sustaining livelihoods from gambling or inaccurate appropriation of a now glamorized identity is unclear. Adopting a self-image of professional gambler in the absence of ability to earn a sustainable income from the activity may increase risk of problem gambling and deter help-seeking. However, extent of problem gambling in this cohort is uncertain. This study aimed to: (1) determine any differences that might validate the self-reported identity of professional and semi-professional gamblers by investigating characteristics and behaviors that distinguish them from amateur gamblers; and (2) identify characteristics and behaviors that distinguish between self-identified semi-professional/professional gamblers with and without gambling problems. In an online survey of 4,594 Australian gamblers, 1.2 % identified as professional gamblers, 6.8 % as semi-professional gamblers, and 92.0 % as amateur gamblers. Self-identified professional and semi-professional gamblers were distinguished from amateur gamblers by preference for skill-based gambling, higher reported likelihood of winning, and greater use of online gambling and multiple online operators. Two-fifths of professional and three-fifths of semi-professional gamblers scored as moderate risk or problem gamblers, but negative consequences were more likely personal, interpersonal and work/study related, rather than financial. Although results support the general accuracy of self-reported semi/professional gambling status, measures are needed to help semi/professional gamblers distinguish whether their gambling is a problem or profession.

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