BACKGROUND: Gambling disorder is related to high overall gambling engagement; however specific activities and modalities are thought to have stronger relationships with gambling problems. This study aimed to isolate the relationship between specific gambling activities and modalities (Internet and venue/land-based) to gambling disorder and general psychological distress. Past-month Internet gamblers were the focus of this investigation because this modality may be associated with gambling disorders in a unique way that needs to be separated from overall gambling intensity.
METHODS: Australians who had gambled online in the prior 30 days (N = 998, 57% male) were recruited through a market research company to complete an online survey measuring self-reported gambling participation, problem gambling severity, and psychological distress.
RESULTS: When controlling for overall gambling frequency, problem gambling was significantly positively associated with the frequency of online and venue-based gambling using electronic gaming machines (EGMs) and venue-based sports betting. Psychological distress was uniquely associated with higher frequency of venue gambling using EGMs, sports betting, and casino card/table games.
CONCLUSIONS: This study advances our understanding of how specific gambling activities are associated with disordered gambling and psychological distress in users of Internet gambling services. Our results suggest that among Internet gamblers, online and land-based EGMs are strongly associated with gambling disorder severity. High overall gambling engagement is an important predictor of gambling-related harms, nonetheless, venue-based EGMs, sports betting and casinos warrant specific attention to address gambling-related harms and psychological distress among gamblers.