Public stigma across addictive behaviors: Casino gambling, esports gambling, and internet gaming


The negative psychological effects of public stigma on disordered gamblers have been well documented. Public stigma deters treatment-seeking and other help-seeking behaviors, and negatively impacts individuals’ view of themselves. Different types of disordered gambling activities may attract different degrees of stigma. One increasingly popular form of gambling involves placing bets on the outcomes of competitive video games, also called eSports gambling. This activity shares characteristics with Internet gaming and gambling. The purpose of this study was to compare the degree of public stigma held towards traditional casino gamblers, eSports gamblers, and Internet gamers, as compared to an individual experiencing comparable levels of impairment and distress due to a financial crisis. Using an experimental between-groups vignette study design, we found that all three types of behavioral addictions were more heavily stigmatized than the control condition. The three behavioral addictions were seen as being highly controllable, engendered a significant amount of anger and blame, and resulted in higher levels of desired social distance. Traditional casino gamblers were seen as significantly more dangerous to be around and created a higher level of desired social distance than the Internet gamer. Differences between the Internet gamer and eSports better were less pronounced. These findings underscore the importance of reducing public stigma for gambling and other behavioral addictions, and provide information that can be used when developing interventions to impact stigma.

Publication Title

Journal of Gambling Studies