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BACKGROUND: Gambling can be motivated by both its hedonic value and by attempts to cope with dysphoric or stressful states. Thus, motivations constitute important mechanisms linking mood fluctuations and gambling. However, little is known about how different kinds of affective disturbance, such as mood elevation and dysphoria, motivate gambling behavior. METHODS: To estimate relationships between different mood experiences and gambling motivations, we recruited 4125 Internet gamblers via hyperlinks placed on gambling Web sites. Mean (SD) age of respondents was 35.5 (11.8) years, with 79.1% (3263) being male and 68.8% (2838) UK residents. We collected ratings for 11 gambling motivations. We used principal components analysis, followed by hierarchical linear regression, to model the relationships between motivation factor scores and gambling behavior, depressive symptoms, hypomanic experiences, deliberate self-harm, and alcohol and substance misuse. RESULTS: Gambling to regulate mood, gambling for monetary goals, and gambling for enjoyment were enhanced in individuals at heightened risk of problematic gambling, with mood regulation and enjoyment factors being enhanced in female compared with male problem gamblers. Lowered mood reduced the enjoyment motivation, whereas previous mood elevation enhanced it. Gambling problems alongside previous hypomanic experiences or current dysphoria enhanced gambling to regulate emotional states. CONCLUSIONS: Recent theorizing argues that mood disorders and pathologic gambling may share aspects of pathophysiology. Different forms of emotional disturbance, such as mood elevation and dysphoric states, which confer heightened risk for bipolar disorder and depression, are associated with divergent motivations that might represent distinct pathways into gambling behavior.

Original publication




Journal article


Biol Psychiatry

Publication Date





733 - 740


Adult, Affect, Anxiety, Behavior, Addictive, Depression, Female, Gambling, Humans, Internet, Male, Motivation, Principal Component Analysis, Substance-Related Disorders