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Encephale. 2012 Apr;38(2):156-63. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2011.01.009. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

[Psychopathology in online pathological gamblers: a preliminary study].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Laboratoire de psychopathologie et processus de santé (LPPS), institut universitaire de psychologie Paris Descartes (IUPDP), université Paris Descartes, 3, Grande-Rue, 91510 Lardy, France.



The rapidly expanding gambling offline and online have resulted in an increasing number of gamblers and the problem is likely to get worse in the future. However, online pathological gambling is a not well known. This rapidly developing modality of gambling, which requires to be studied, notably in its links with regular pathological gambling and Internet addiction. Depression and personality disorders are known to be often associated with pathological gambling. Personality disorders have an influence on pathological gambling, increasing its severity. Online gamblers seem to have a particular personality profile, compared to offline gamblers, and could present different personality disorders. Depression is a common comorbidity among online gamblers, as well as offline gamblers. Both types of gamblers have personality disorders, but the nature of these disorders differs: prevalency of personality disorders of cluster B (dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders) is more important in offline gamblers, whereas cluster C (anxious or fearful disorders) is more present in online pathological gamblers. In France, few studies have specifically examined this subject.


The objective of the study is to evaluate scores on depression, personality disorders and internet addiction in online pathological gamblers.


The South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) is used to assess pathological gambling, Beck's Depression Inventory (BDI) to measure depression, the Personality Disorders Questionnaire (PDQ 4) to assess personality disorders and the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) to assess internet addiction. Participants completed the self-report scales. Questionnaires were strictly confidential.


The participants were recruited in gambling places (cafés) and Internet forums. Two groups of pathological gamblers were formed: online gamblers (N=15) and offline gamblers (N=15). Participants gave their informed consent. Participation was voluntary and anonymous and no payment was made. ANALYSIS OF THE DATA: The data collection was carried out with an anonymous file and then placed in a data bank. The statistical analysis was carried out using traditional techniques: averages, frequency, standard deviations. Differences among groups were tested using the t-test.


The results showed that the majority of subjects met diagnostic criteria for at least one personality disorder. The majority of pathological online gamblers evidenced personality of cluster C grouping avoidant, dependant and obsessive-compulsive personalities. Personality disorders differ according to the type of gambling: offline gamblers have more disorders of cluster B, while online gamblers have more disorders of cluster C. Some personality disorders, in particular borderline and narcissistic personality disorders, are often associated with pathological gambling and seem to have an increasing effect on depression and pathological gambling's intensity. Pathological gambling is strongly correlated to depression. Online pathological gambling, Internet addiction and offline pathological gambling appear to be strongly correlated.


This study opens new perspectives of questioning and research, in particular for existing links between online and offline pathological gambling and internet addiction, and in existent differences between online and offline pathological gamblers. Online pathological gambling shares common characteristics with pathological gambling and Internet addiction, without being able to be assimilated with one or the other. This type of gambling, therefore, requires to be studied to adapt the actions of prevention and treatment intended for online pathological gamblers.

Copyright © 2011 L’Encéphale, Paris. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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