Pathological gambling was only recently recognized as a psychiatric disorder (DSM-III, APA, 1980). Most studies of pathological gambling include only male subjects. Despite the paucity of information, it is likely that at least one-third of pathological gamblers are women. The objective of this article is to review clinical and epidemiological characteristics of female gamblers as compared to their male counterparts. MEDLINE and PsycINFO were searched for investigational studies and reviews of the past 10 years on clinical (sociodemographic, course and progression, psychiatric comorbidities, genetics, and personality) and epidemiological aspects of female gamblers. Other relevant articles were also selected from reference lists. It is concluded that the current literature indicates some common characteristics in female and male gamblers, but it also indicates the possibility that each gender may carry etiopathogenic differences that when better understood should lead to improved treatment and prevention strategies.
Pathological gambling; Female gender; Epidemiology; Clinical characteristics; Genetics; Personality