Key findings

  • Research indicates that there are similarities between gambling and drug addiction, with many gamblers engaging in licit and illicit drug use and many drug users engaging in gambling practices (Gupta & Derevensky, 1998).
  • In 2005, the level of problem gambling (defined as moderate and high risk gambling as measured by the Canadian Problem Gambling Index), was 1.6% of the SA population aged 18 years or over and 1% of those aged 16-17 years.
  • Half of those interviewed for the SA 2008 EDRS had gambled a median of four times in the month prior to interview, with poker machines the most popular reported form of gambling activity.
  • Two-thirds of gamblers were male compared to just over a third of the non-gamblers.
  • Three-quarters of those who gambled were in some form of employment (either full or part time), compared to just over half of the non-gamblers.
  • Those who had gambled commenced ecstasy use at a younger age than non-gamblers and progressed into regular use of ecstasy in a shorter time period.
  • More gamblers reported recent use of methamphetamine and alcohol, and also reported a higher frequency of use of ecstasy, ‘any’ methamphetamine, cannabis and alcohol than those who did not report gambling in the month prior to the interview.
  • More gamblers than non-gamblers were assessed as methamphetamine dependent and in need of evaluation for alcohol dependence, but were less likely to have medium to high levels of psychological distress or to report having a mental health problem.
  • Gamblers were also more likely than non-gamblers to report using other drugs when coming down from ecstasy and to report driving over the limit of alcohol.
  • The results of this exploratory study suggest that more research needs to be initiated examining the interaction between methamphetamine use and gambling practices.
  • In summary, gambling behaviour in the SA 2008 EDRS sample was a marker for increased use of various drugs and increased frequency of use of those drugs used.


Resource type
Drug Trends Bulletins
Date published
01 Apr 2009