Background and aims: Sports betting has been barely explored independently from other gambling behaviors. Little evidence is available regarding the factors affecting its severity in a clinical sample. The current study explores new determinants for sports betting severity in Spain by the inclusion of psychopathological distress and personality factors.
Methods: A sample of 352 Spanish sports bettors undergoing treatment for gambling disorder was recruited. Multiple regression models were used to evaluate the effects of sociodemographic variables, the age of onset of gambling behavior, the global psychopathological distress (SCL-90R GSI) and the personality profile (TCI-R) on sports betting severity and their influence over frequency (bets per episode) and debts due to gambling.
Results: We found that older age, higher psychopathological distress, lower self-directedness level, and higher novelty seeking level were predictors of gambling severity in Spanish sports bettors. The highest betting frequency was found in men, with the lowest education levels but the highest social status, the highest psychopathological distress, reward dependence score, and self-transcendence trait and the lowest persistence score. Debts were also associated to higher score in cooperativeness as well as older age.
Discussion and conclusions: Our findings call for further exploration of factors affecting sports betting severity regarded as a separate gambling entity subtype, as some of the traditional factors typically found in gamblers do not apply to sports bettors or apply inversely in our country. Consequently, sports bettors might deserve specific clinical approaches to tackle the singularities of their gambling behavior.