Does gambling differ in people with a minority sexual orientation?

BACKGROUND: Gambling is common and there is growing concern about its public health implications. Little is known about how gambling differs in people with minority sexual identities. We sought to understand whether lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals differ from non-LGB individuals in terms of gambling and associated characteristics.

METHODS: A total of 534 participants age 18 to 29 who gambled at least 5 times in the preceding year undertook clinical and neurocognitive evaluations. Those who identified as LGB were compared to heterosexuals on clinical and cognitive measures.

RESULTS: Overall, 51 participants (9.6%) identified as LGB. These individuals showed significantly higher levels of problem gambling, suicide risk, substance use disorders, traits of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), higher errors on a set-shifting task, and higher rates of family history of addiction.

CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that individuals with minority sexual orientations may be at higher risk of experiencing problem gambling and associated factors, such as increased suicidality, OCPD traits, and some degree of cognitive differences. Future studies should establish whether these associations also exist in clinical samples of people with full gambling disorder. Large-scale longitudinal research in neglected minority groups is needed to further explore these associations.

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