Socioeconomics Research Data Summary

Research and Data


Socioeconomics and Gambling Data

Here, you’ll find a summary of problem gambling research data specific to Socioeconomics from our Resource Library. For more information click research citation links.

For quick reference, data topic categories on this webpage include:



General Socioeconomic Gambling Data


  • When neighborhood disadvantage was high and individual socioeconomic status was low, the highest levels of problem gambling were observed (Barnes et al., 2013).
  • Frequent gambling and problem gambling are highest in the lowest socioeconomic status (SES) group and the greatest neighborhood disadvantage group (Barnes et al., 2013).
    • (These same socioeconomic and neighborhood patterns do not apply to alcohol use and abuse rates which were highest among the highest SES and neighborhoods with advantageous conditions).
  • All of the predictors of alcohol abuse are not the same as the predictors for problem gambling in the present study (Barnes et al., 2013).
  • When individual socioeconomic status is low and neighborhood disadvantage is high, problem gambling is at the highest level (Barnes et al., 2013).


  • Gambling involvement tends to decline as SES rises (Welte, 2011).
  • Frequent and problem gambling become more common as SES gets lower (Welte, 2011).
  • Lower SES respondents have higher odds of being a frequent gambler than higher SES respondents (Welte, 2011).


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Asian Communities Socioeconomic Data


  • 60% of interviewees thought that gamblers gambled to earn quick easy money (Colby et al, 2022).
      • ♦ Less than 20% of interviewees mentioned gambling to earn money for improving family finances.
  • 83% of participants stressed the potential for financial difficulties due to gambling (Colby et al, 2022).
  • People chose to gamble to escape poverty and improve family finances (the dream of a better future) (Colby et al, 2022).
  • Problem gambling can create incredible stress on families leading to financial ruin/debt, domestic violence, child neglect, and even suicide (Colby et al, 2022).
  • Uncontrolled gambling, often at a local casino, was at the root of the families’ financial problems (Colby et al, 2022).


      • ♦ 65% ask friends.
      • ♦ 38% ask loan sharks.
      • ♦ 33% borrow from family.
      • ♦ 23% take out high interest loans.
      • ♦ 23% pawn items.
      • ♦ 15% sell property.
      • ♦ 13% work more jobs/ overtime.
  • People choose to gamble for stress relief.
      • ♦ The stress relief was largely linked to work pressure and the heavy workload a lot of people feel (Colby et al, 2022).
      • ♦ People “believe that gambling is a very relaxing thing” (Colby et al, 2022).
      • ♦ Escape, or distract, from the stress of real life (Colby et al, 2022).
*View Asian American data summary*
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Socioeconomic Black Community Data


  • Black Americans have lower odds of being a gambler as compared with all other race/ethnic groups (Barnes et al., 2013).
*View Black Community data summary*
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Socioeconomic Co-Occurring SUD Data


  • 94% of people with gambling problems will have at least one cooccurring mental health or addiction disorder (including alcohol and nicotine dependence, depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder) (Pricel et al., 2021).
  • Gambling problems stem from complex and diverse social and economic factors, which may be complicated by the high rate of co-occurring health conditions (Pricel et al., 2021).


  • Gambling in the past year is more prevalent (75%) than drinking any alcohol in the past year (60%) (Barnes et al., 2013).
  • 75% of respondents reported gambling in the past year (Barnes et al., 2013).
    • A higher rate than drinking any alcohol (60%) in the past year.
*View Co-Occurring SUD data summary*
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Socioeconomic College & Young ADULT Data


  • Higher socioeconomic status lowered the odds of problem gambling (Barnes, 2017).


*View College & Young Adult data compilation*
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Socioeconomic Education Data


  • Sports betting has a disproportionate appeal to those at the higher end of the socio-economic scale (by income and educational attainment) (NCPG, 2021).


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Socioeconomic Employment Data


  • Gambling harms can take the form of financial insecurity, employment disruption, suicide, substance abuse, psychological disorders, and more (Pricel et al., 2021).


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Socioeconomic Policy Data


  • The governance structure of legal gambling industries typically do not include the department of health (This will continue until the public views gambling harm as a public crisis that requires public health input) (Pricel et al., 2021).


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Socioeconomic Suicide Data


  • Gambling harms can take the form of financial insecurity, employment disruption, suicide, substance abuse, psychological disorders, and more (Pricel et al., 2021).


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Socioeconomic Treatment Data


  • The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) is useful for determining risk categories (though, missing data measuring harm as an outcome) (Pricel et al., 2021).
  • The Problem and Pathological Gambling Measure (PPGM) is an instrument used by some researchers to identify the incidence of specific gambling harms concurrently with an assessment of problem (though it fails to capture the extent of harm being experienced by close relations) (Pricel et al., 2021).


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Socioeconomic Veteran Data


  • Gambling Disorder is the second strongest predictor of homelessness among veterans, second to illicit drug use (Etuk et al., 2020).


  • Several factors such as level of exposure, emotional states, as well as organizational context and culture, may affect assessment and communication of risk (Breivik et al., 2019).
  • Sociodemographic background, personality factors, and general mind-set seem to influence soldiers’ risk behavior and choice of career (Breivik et al., 2019).
  • Men who had greater academic abilities were more likely to go to college. Thereby, they avoided military service and the possibility of serving in a combat occupation (Breivik et al., 2019).
  • On the demand side, the armed forces were more likely to exclude men with lower academic abilities. But they were also more likely to assign such men to combat occupations when they had entered the military system. There was, thus, an overrepresentation of men with lower academic abilities among soldiers and especially in combat occupations (Breivik et al., 2019).


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Socioeconomic Risk Factors


Population Level
Veteran Risk Factors


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Socioeconomic Protective Factors

Veteran Protective Factors


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Research Recommendations

  • More gambling-related harm data is needed to develop integrated systems for gambling policy, treatment and counselling interactions (Pricel et al., 2021).
  • Encourage public health system involvement to leverage expertise and resources for preventive interventions, health promotional information, and data development and analysis for the field’s advancement (Pricel et al., 2021).
  • To help advance knowledge and fill the research gap, cross-jurisdictional support can expand longitudinal research and present an opportunity to share data widely among the gambling and public health research communities (Pricel et al., 2021).
  • Collect data of gambling harms experienced by gamblers and significant others through helpline calls to financial institutions to monitor gambling transactions, as well as other sectors such as intimate partner violence services (where gambling is listed as a cause), bankruptcy courts, and coroners’ reports where gambling is indicated as a cause of suicide (Pricel et al., 2021).
  • Develop network of stakeholders to access and assess gambling related data to work towards a common public health goal to identify gambling problems at earlier stages and respond in a concerted manner to reduce or prevent harm from occurring disorders (Pricel et al., 2021).
  • Form a basis to address population gambling-related health problems by developing integrated approaches to where gambling harm intersects with other public health issues such as substance abuse, mental illness, poverty, etc. (Pricel et al., 2021).


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Price, A., Hilbrecht, M. & Billi, R. Charting a path towards a public health approach for gambling harm prevention. J Public Health (Berl.) 29, 37–53 (2021). (Link to Research)

National Council on Problem Gambling. (2021). National Detail Report National Survey on gambling attitudes and … (Link to Research)

2020 New York State Problem Gambling Prevalence Survey Final Report. New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. 2021. (Link to Research)

Etuk R, Shirk SD, Grubbs J, Kraus SW. Gambling problems in US military veterans. Current Addiction Reports. 2020;7(2):210-228. doi:10.1007/s40429-020-00310-2. (Link to Research)

Breivik, G., Sand, T. S., & Sookermany, A. M. (2019). Risk-Taking and Sensation Seeking in Military Contexts: A Literature Review. SAGE Open, 9(1). (Link to Research)

Barnes, G. M., Welte, J. W., Tidwell, M. C., & Hoffman, J. H. (2013). Effects of Neighborhood Disadvantage on Problem Gambling and Alcohol Abuse. Journal of behavioral addictions2(2), 82–89. (Link to Research)

Welte JW, Barnes GM, Tidwell MC, Hoffman JH. Gambling and problem gambling across the lifespan. J Gambl Stud. 2011 Mar;27(1):49-61. doi: 10.1007/s10899-010-9195-z. PMID: 20499144; PMCID: PMC4383132. (Link to Research)


Further Reading