The WAGER, Vol. 1(41) – Gambling & problem gambling: Gender differences


Little research has been conducted on the etiology, epidemiology, and experience of female gamblers. Historically, like many other areas of medical research, gambling studies have been conducted predominantly on male populations. This strategy may yield findings irrelevant to our knowledge of female gamblers. Hraba & Lee* examined gender differences in gambling behavior in a telephone survey study of 1,011 randomly selected adults in Iowa. These researchers constructed standardized scores of gambling behavior by combining the following four components: 1) gambling scope (number of different types of gambling), 2) gambling frequency, 3) wagering amount, & 4) amount of leisure time spent on gambling. Problem gambling was measured by combining the following three components: 1) self-reported gambling behavior, 2) loss of control over gambling, & 3) negative consequences due to gambling. The study found that of those who gambled, women had a significantly lower mean score than men on the gambling behavior scale. The narrow scope of gambling among women is responsible for this difference. Regarding problem gambling, there were no significant differences between the mean scores of women and men. These findings suggest that women and men are at equal risk of becoming problem gamblers. Further research is necessary to understand how gender differences influence gambling participation and the development of problem gambling; in addition, a better understanding of gender difference will help to guide the development of more effective treatment and prevention programs.


*Hraba, J. & Lee, G. (1996). Gender, gambling and problem gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 12, 83-101.

This public education project is funded, in part, by The Andrews Foundation.
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For more information contact the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling,
190 High Street, Suite 6, Boston, MA 02110.

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