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Strategic vs nonstrategic gambling: Characteristics of pathological gamblers based on gambling preference

Brian L. Odlaug, BA

Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Patrick J. Marsh, MD

Department of Psychiatry, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

Suck Won  Kim, MD

Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Jon E. Grant, JD, MD, MPH

Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

BACKGROUND: Although prior studies have examined various clinical characteristics of pathological gambling (PG), limited data exist regarding the clinical correlates of PG based on preferred forms of gambling.

METHODS: We grouped patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling into 3 categories of preferred forms of gambling: strategic (eg, cards, dice, sports betting, stock market), nonstrategic (eg, slots, video poker, pull tabs), or both. We then compared the groups’ clinical characteristics, gambling severity (using the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale Modified for Pathological Gambling, the Clinical Global Impression–Severity scale, and time and money spent gambling) and psychiatric comorbidity.

RESULTS: The 440 patients included in this sample (54.1% females; mean age 47.69±11.36 years) comprised the following groups: strategic (n=56; 12.7%), nonstrategic (n=200; 45.5%), or both (n=184; 41.8%). Nonstrategic gamblers were significantly more likely to be older and female. Money spent gambling, frequency of gambling, gambling severity, and comorbid disorders did not differ significantly among groups.

CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results suggest that preferred form of gambling may be associated with certain age groups and sexes but is not associated with any specific clinical differences.

KEYWORDS: impulse control disorders, pathological gambling, phenomenology


CORRESPONDENCE: Brian L. Odlaug, University of Minnesota, Department of Psychiatry, Ambulatory, Research Center, 606 24th Avenue South, Suite 602, Minneapolis, MN 55454 USA E-MAIL:
Annals of Clinical Psychiatry ©2011 Quadrant HealthCom Inc.

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