Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jeffrey Weatherly


Few studies have examined differences between online and offline gamblers, with no study to date enlisting the participation of online gamblers in a laboratory-based study. Moreover, research indicates that there is a link between escape and problem gambling, however, no study to date has examined this relationship in online gamblers using an experimental design. The current study is the first to address these gaps in the literature. All 420 participants participated in the non-experimental phase of the study, and 50 participants participated in the experimental phase. All participants completed a demographics form, SOGS, PGSI, GFA-R, BDI-SF, discounting task, and a gambling motivations questionnaire. In the experimental phase, participants' mood state was manipulated using hypothetical scenarios before gambling. The results indicated that online gamblers had a higher rate of problem-gambling severity than offline gamblers, and that online gamblers have used gambling to escape to a greater degree than offline gamblers. In terms of differences in the gambling behavior of online and offline gamblers, online gamblers were found to have played more hands and committed more errors than offline gamblers. No statistically significant results were found across mood conditions, or when the interaction between participants' gambler status and mood condition was examined, although trends in the hypothesized direction were observed. No statistically significant group differences were observed when online gamblers' rate of discounting certain outcomes was compared to offline gamblers' rates. Taken together, these results suggest that some of the differences between online and offline gamblers may help explain the higher prevalence of problem gambling among online gamblers. Although gambling to escape was found to be positively correlated with problem-gambling severity, the experimental results did not support this finding. Future studies should investigate the relationship between escape and problem gambling in online gamblers by using a different manipulation. A more knowledgeable understanding of the differences between online and offline gamblers will lead to better treatment outcomes for individuals who suffer from a gambling addiction.