Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization

Developmental Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Joan Norris

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Dr. Joseph Tindale

Advisor Role



Since its legalization, gambling has become a popular form of entertainment in Canada (e.g., Tepperman & Wanner, 2012). Despite this increase in popularity, little research has been done examining gambling among older adults, and even in this area of research there is a lack of attention to minority groups (e.g., Ariyabuddhiphongs, 2012; Munro, Cox-Bishop, McVey, & Munro., 2003). Tirachaimongkol and colleagues (2010) proposed a theoretical pathways model to help explain problem gambling risk in older adults. This model includes three “clusters” of risk factors, including individual vulnerability factors, social and environmental factors, and behavioural regulation factors. The second cluster is especially relevant to problem gambling research on minority groups.

There is almost no gambling research that has been conducted with Francophone minority populations. Francophones in Ontario have been found to be at risk of marginalization and exclusion (e.g., Fougère, 2006; Kauppi et al., 2004; Picard & Charland, 1999), and thus at greater risk for psychological distress (e.g., Cairney & Krause, 2005; Clark, Colantonio, Rhodes, & Escobar, 2007; Thériault & Stones, 2009).

The purpose and goal of this work was to better understand gambling in a sample of older Francophones from North-Eastern Ontario. A sample of 181 older (over 55 years) Francophones from North-Eastern Ontario (M age = 68.7, SD = 7.6) were recruited using snowball sampling with the help of key individuals, organizations, and networks within the Francophone community. Most of the participants were women (59.7%) and were married (74.0%). The participants filled out a culturally modified and translated version of a questionnaire designed by Norris and Tindale (2006). This instrument included a wide variety of scales, items, and measures concerning demographics, gambling attitudes and behaviours, problem gambling, and various comorbidities.

This dissertation is divided into two studies; the first had the purpose of constructing a demographic, social, and intergenerational family profile of gambling in older Francophones in North-Eastern Ontario. This profile was then compared to a similar profile of older Anglophones in Ontario constructed by Norris and Tindale (2006; Tindale & Norris, 2012). Since this study was the first to examine gambling in this population, it was thus exploratory in nature. This study found that gambling was not an important recreational activity or pastime for the participants and that remarkably few of those in the sample were at risk of problem gambling compared to the samples from Norris and Tindale (2006; Tindale & Norris, 2012). It was also found that participants had a high level of community involvement which may be why this sample is unique, and why problem gambling is so low.

Considering these findings, the second study aimed to apply the pathways model proposed by Tirachaimongkol and colleagues (2010) in order to better understand problem gambling risk and, specifically, to understand why those in the Francophone sample were not at higher problem gambling risk. The results of this study supported the link between problem gambling and individual vulnerability factors; however, the cluster of social and environmental factors identified by Tirachaimongkol and colleagues did not explain why Francophone participants were still at a lower risk of problem gambling. One plausible explanation for this finding, and something that this pathways model does not take into account, is the possibility that a positive ethnic identity might act as a protective factor for problem gambling risk. By testing the pathways model’s applicability to the older Francophone population in North-Eastern Ontario, this study helped to elaborate its usefulness by highlighting both its successes and failures/omissions.

Although the two studies presented here have their limitations, they are the first to examine these issues in this population. The findings of these studies help us better understand gambling among older Francophones in North-Eastern Ontario. The fact that, contrary to expectations and to the previous literature, problem gambling was not an issue for the Francophone sample means that there more that needs to be done to understand gambling among older minority groups.

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