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Article

Being a Gambler during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Study with Italian Patients and the Effects of Reduced Exposition

1
Department of Neuroscience, Psychology, Drug, and Child’s Health, Section of Psychology, University of Florence, 50135 Florence, Italy
2
National Health Drugs Service (Servizio Dipendenze Patologiche, Ser.DP) of Piacenza, Azienda Unità Sanitaria Locale AUSL Piacenza, 29121 Piacenza, Italy
3
Association AND-Azzardo e Nuove Dipendenze [Gambling and New Addictions], 21013 Gallarate, Italy
4
Cometa Consorzio di Cooperative Sociali [Consortium of Social Cooperatives], 19121 La Spezia, Italy
5
National Health Drugs Service (Servizio Dipendenze Ser.D.) of Parabiago (Milan), Azienda Socio Sanitaria Territoriale, ASST Ovest Milanese, 20025 Legnano, Italy
6
National Health Drugs Service, Mental Health and Addiction Department (SERT) of La Spezia, ASL Azienda Sociosanitaria Ligure 5, 19121 La Spezia, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 424; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020424
Received: 28 November 2020 / Revised: 3 January 2021 / Accepted: 4 January 2021 / Published: 7 January 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic, with the consequent lockdown of about 3 months, can be viewed as an experimental model to observe the impact of the depletion of environmental factors that stimulate gambling, particularly electronic gambling machines (EGMs) that were set to zero. The effects of some structural characteristics of gambling activities that increase gambling behavior were studied among disordered gamblers in treatment in this unique scenario. In fact, studies investigating the effects of the lockdown on problem gamblers (PGs) under treatment are missing. The aims of this study were to analyze patients’ gambling behavior and craving during the lockdown and to conduct a comparison between gambling disorder (GD) symptoms at the beginning of the treatment and during lockdown. The study was conducted in Italy, the European country with the largest gambling market and the first to be affected by the virus. Data were collected through a semi-structured telephone interview conducted by healthcare professionals. Participants were 135 PGs under treatment (109 males, mean age = 50.07). Results showed that most PGs achieved a significant improvement in their quality of life, with less gambling behavior, GD symptoms, and lower craving. No shift toward online gambling and very limited shift towards other potential addictive and excessive behaviors occurred. The longer the treatment, the more monitoring is present and the better the results in terms of symptoms reduction. Individual and environmental characteristics during the lockdown favored the reduction in symptoms. Consideration for prevention and treatment are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; gambling disorder; environmental prevention; gambling restrictions; problem gamblers; harm reduction; abstinence; telephone interview; treatment; Italy COVID-19 pandemic; gambling disorder; environmental prevention; gambling restrictions; problem gamblers; harm reduction; abstinence; telephone interview; treatment; Italy
MDPI and ACS Style

Donati, M.A.; Cabrini, S.; Capitanucci, D.; Primi, C.; Smaniotto, R.; Avanzi, M.; Quadrelli, E.; Bielli, G.; Casini, A.; Roaro, A. Being a Gambler during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Study with Italian Patients and the Effects of Reduced Exposition. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 424. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020424

AMA Style

Donati MA, Cabrini S, Capitanucci D, Primi C, Smaniotto R, Avanzi M, Quadrelli E, Bielli G, Casini A, Roaro A. Being a Gambler during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Study with Italian Patients and the Effects of Reduced Exposition. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(2):424. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020424

Chicago/Turabian Style

Donati, Maria A., Silvia Cabrini, Daniela Capitanucci, Caterina Primi, Roberta Smaniotto, Maurizio Avanzi, Eleonora Quadrelli, Giovanna Bielli, Alfredo Casini, and Alessandra Roaro. 2021. "Being a Gambler during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Study with Italian Patients and the Effects of Reduced Exposition" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 2: 424. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020424

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