The research looked at the relationship between problem
gambling and symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the risk and protective
factors for problem gambling among young people aged 17-24 over a two year
The study was conducted in two parts with Part A examining the relationship between problem gambling and symptoms of anxiety and depression, and whether there are common factors that are protective against symptoms of anxiety and depression and problem gambling in young adulthood.
Part B examined the prevalence of sub-groups with similar patterns of problem gambling behaviour over time, the risk and protective factors for different patterns of problem gambling, and the extent to which issues concerning mental health, substance use, employment and anti-social behaviour are associated with varying problem gambling behaviours.
Findings revealed that the prevalence of problem gambling remained stable over the two year study period, but was consistently higher for males and that symptoms for anxiety and depression were significantly higher for females than for males.
Results from the second wave of the study showed an association between problem gambling and symptoms for anxiety and depression, though this did not hold over time. Protective factors for anxiety and depression symptoms were living in a stable neighbourhood, family concord, and being employed during the first wave of the study.
Being female was found to be protective of each problem gambling pattern, consistent with the large body of literature showing that males are at an increased risk of problem gambling.
Though stable neighbourhood and family concord were prospective predictors of anxiety and depression, none of the measured protective factors were found to be longitudinally associated with problem gambling, suggesting that among young people who are of legal age to gamble, the protective factors examined were poor predictors of problem gambling.
It may be that risk processes for problem gambling occur earlier in adolescence, and so the role of protective factors may no longer be relevant or important in young adulthood.
Scholes-Balog, K & Dowling, N 2017, Longitudinal protective factors for problem gambling and related harms: Building resilience among young adult gamblers, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Melbourne.