Men and women with gambling problems get hooked on different games and play for different reasons, according to a new Yale University study that may help develop treatments for women.
Problem gambling, long considered to affect mostly men, is becoming more common among women, especially as women gain more financial independence and the number of casinos grows, researchers said.
“Trying to understand and distinguish characteristics between males and females with problem gambling may help figure out how to best treat people with gambling problems,” said Dr. Marc Potenza, a psychiatry professor at Yale who heads the Problem Gambling Clinic.
The study by Potenza and other researchers found that women were more likely than men to have problems with games that do not involve much strategy or face-to-face interaction, such as slot machines and bingo.
Men were more likely than women to have problems with strategic, face-to-face games such as blackjack, poker, racing and sports betting.
Also, the study found that female problem gamblers often gamble to escape family troubles or other problems.
Men who have gambling problems are more likely to be thrill-seekers who are chasing the rush they get from winning.
Women with gambling problems were more likely than men to have started gambling later in life. Once they started, however, they tended to get hooked on gambling more quickly than men, Potenza said.
Many of these findings are also seen among cocaine addicts and alcoholics, Potenza said, suggesting a biological basis for gambling addiction.
“Like other addictive disorders, pathological gambling should be treated within a medical and psychiatric clinical setting,” he said.
The study of 562 callers to a gambling help line in Connecticut in 1998 and 1999 was published this month in the American Journal …