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Episodic and Binge Gambling: An Exploration and Preliminary Quantitative Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Sean Cowlishaw
  • Erika Nespoli
  • Jeshoor Jebadurai
  • Neil Smith
  • Henrietta Bowden-Jones
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-99
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Gambling Studies
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jun 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 28 May 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jun 2017
DatePublished (current) - Mar 2018


The DSM-5 includes provisions for episodic forms of gambling disorder, with such changes aligned with earlier accounts of potential binge gambling behaviours. However, there is little research that indicates the utility of these classifications of episodic or binge gambling, and this study considered their characteristics in a clinical sample. It involved administration of a new binge gambling screening tool, along with routine measures, to n = 214 patients entering a specialist treatment clinic for gambling problems. Results indicated that episodic gambling was common in this clinical context, with 28% and 32% of patients reporting gambling episodes that were (a) regular and alternating, and (b) irregular and intermittent, respectively. These patterns were distinguished by factors including associations with covariates that indicated differences from continuous gamblers. For example, the irregular episodic gamblers, but not the regular pattern, demonstrated lower levels of problem gambling severity and comorbidity. Rates of potential binge gambling, which was defined in terms of additional criteria, were around 4% and numbers were insufficient for comparable analyses. The findings support inclusion of episodic forms of gambling disorder in the DSM-5, but highlight the need for improved recognition and research on heterogeneous forms of episodic gambling.

    Research areas

  • episodic, binge, gambling, abstinence, measurement, treatment clinic

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