Children of problem gamblers

Durand F. Jacobs, Albert R. Marston, Robert D. Singer, Keith Widaman, Todd Little, Jeannette Veizades

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


An anonymous 37-item Health Survey was administered to 844 randomly selected ninth- to twelfth-grade students in four Southern California public high schools. Systematic information was gathered about their general health, quality of life, school and work adjustment, involvement with a range of potentially addictive substances and activities, and indications of psychosocial maladjustment, including difficulties with the law and suicide attempts. A series of self-ratings of students who characterized one or both of their parents as having a compulsive gambling problem (N=52) were contrasted with those of their classmates who reported no gambling problem among their parents (N=792). Findings have been grouped into three major areas: (a) comparative levels and reported effects of involvement with health-threatening behaviors (i.e., smoking, drinking, drug use, overeating, and gambling); (b) comparative incidence of psychosocial risk indicators (i.e., broken home, unhappy childhood and teenage years, legal action pending, overall quality of youth rated as "poor"); and (c) comparative incidence of dysphoria, school and work problems, and suicide attempts. Across each of these areas children of parents said to gamble excessively were found to be at consistently greater risk than their classmates who did not describe their parents as having a problem with compulsive gambling. These findings strongly suggest that without early and competent intervention, children of parents who gamble excessively: (a) will be seriously disadvantaged when attempting to solve their present adolescent and future adult problems of living; and (b) as a consequence are, themselves, high-risk candidates for developing one or another form of dysfunctional adjustment, including an addictive pattern of behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-268
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Gambling Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1989


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