Problem gambling during Covid-19

Fabio Frisone, Angela Alibrandi, Salvatore Settineri


Background: Problem gambling could progressively grow in a period of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic to the possibility of gambling directly from home.

Objectives: This pilot study highlights if the problem gambling, during a period of isolation such as that of COVID-19, can be explained by personality or sociodemographic characteristics, therefore it investigates the emotional and impulsive characteristics of problem gamblers and examines whether those who are adults, those who have more years of study or who work are less likely to have problem gambling.

Methods: A total of 200 subjects completed an online survey to examine the associations between problem gambling, alexithymia, and impulsiveness. The standardized tools used were the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11).

Results: Problem gambling was positively correlated with male gender, TAS-20 total score, difficulty describing feelings, externally-oriented thinking, attentional, and nonplanning impulsiveness. Furthermore, there was a significant inverse correlation between higher SOGS scores and fewer years of study. Multivariate analysis showed that age, gender, years of study, BIS-11 total score, attentional impulsiveness, and nonplanning impulsiveness were predictors of gambling.

Conclusions: The results of this exploratory research suggest that in a period characterized by a pandemic, problem gambling is associated with some personality and sociodemographic characteristics. Moreover, age, male gender, low levels of study and impulsive characteristics play a decisive role in problem gambling.


Gambling; Alexithymia; Impulsiveness; COVID-19 pandemic; Clinical psychology.

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