The relationship between college student gambling, parenting styles, and family environments is a neglected area of gambling research. Do parenting styles indirectly influence problem gambling behaviors via family environments? Do poor family environments, characterized by high levels of conflict and low levels of cohesion, increase the likelihood of problem gambling among youth? This study explored the interrelationships among college students' current gambling behaviors and a) having an emotionally close and supportive family environment, b) having nagging and critical parents, c) having an authoritative mother, and d) frequency of alcohol consumption.
Survey data were collected from 450 undergraduate students enrolled in introductory psychology classes at two state universities in a southern state. Feeling that one has nagging and critical parents was associated with gambling in more venues, while the opposite was true for having emotionally close and supportive families. However, perceptions of having authoritative mothers were not related to gambling. The results also showed that more frequent alcohol consumption was associated with higher odds of gambling in casinos, playing cards for money, betting on sports, gambling on the Internet, higher gambling losses, and a larger number of gambling venues.
As with any exploratory research, there are several unique lines of inquiry that can, and should, follow from these findings, including more research on how college students' attitudes toward gambling activities may have begun prior to college and been influenced by their feelings about their homes and parents.