The Gambler Index (GI) is specifically designed for gambler assessment. The GI consists of 137 test items and takes 20 to 25 minutes to complete. The GI contains six scales or measures. 1. Truthfulness Scale, 2. Gambling Severity Scale, 3. Alcohol Scale, 4. Drug Scale, 5. Suicide Scale and 6. Stress Management Scale. Interaction of these six scales (or behaviors) greatly influence the gambler’s outlook and behavior.

The unique features of the Gambler Index (GI) set it apart from other “gambler” tests. For example, today many assessors acknowledge the importance of the Truthfulness Scale, largely because many gamblers are into denial and problem minimization. Some are notorious liars. Gamblers may lie to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of their involvement with gambling. Without a Truthfulness Scale it would be very difficult to establish an offender’s truthfulness while being assessed or tested.

The Gambler Index (GI) is an evidence based assessment instrument or test. Much of the research is set forth on The Gambler Index (GI) has been standardized on gamblers (male and female) in treatment for gambling, probationers on gambler caseloads, and outpatient gambler groups. The GI is written at a low 6th grade reading level. For reference, “gambling involves risking something of value in the hope of obtaining something of greater value” (DSM-5).

Gambler Index (GI) Scales

Truthfulness Scale: Gamblers are notorious liars. They typically rationalize their lifestyle and when asked about their gambling often minimize it or engage in denial. The Truthfulness Scale measures how truthful the gambler was while completing the Gambler Index (GI). It identifies guarded and defensive gamblers, who attempt to "fake good." Truthfulness Scale scores in the “problem risk range” are automatically truth-corrected for accuracy. In other words, when the Truthfulness Scale score is in the “problem risk range” all other Gambler Index scale scores (Gambling Severity, Alcohol Scale, Drug Scale, Suicide Scale and Stress Management Scale) are automatically truth-corrected. Truthfulness Scale scores in the “severe problem range” are too distorted by denial and problem minimization to be truth-corrected. They are invalid or inaccurate. Truthfulness Scale scores in the low or moderate risk ranges are accurate and do not need to truth-corrected. One of the first things to check when reviewing a GI report is the Truthfulness Scale score.

Gambling Severity Scale: measures gamblers interest and involvement. Gambling severity is measured on a continuum from none to severe problem gambling. The Gambler Index (GI) Gambling Severity Scale quantifies gambling involvement. In other words, the Gambling Severity Scale measures the severity of gambler’s gambling involvement. Problem gamblers (in the problem risk range) manifest emerging gambling-related problems. These individuals are losing control over their gambling. Problem gamblers are experiencing gambling-related problems (not just money-related). All Gambler Index (GI) scales interact with the Gambling Severity Scale. There is general consensus that gamblers are often negatively affected by substance (alcohol/drug) use, experienced stress, and suicidal ideation (thoughts). The Gambling Severity Scale asses the severity of gambling involvement.

Alcohol Scale: measures alcohol (beer, wine or liquor) use and abuse. It measures the severity of alcohol use. Many pathological gamblers have drinking problems that warrant intervention or treatment. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) emphasizes alcohol problem severity should dictate treatment intensity (groups, outpatient or inpatient).

A history of alcohol problems could result in an abstainer (current non-drinker) attaining a low to medium risk scale score. Consequently, safeguards have been built into the GI, to identify "recovering alcoholics.” The gambler's answer to the "recovering alcoholic" question is included for reference.

Drug Scale: Illicit drug use is becoming more prevalent in many gambler’s lives. Here we are referring to marijuana, cocaine, crack, speed, ecstasy, barbiturates, amphetamines, heroin, etc. The legalization of marijuana will undoubtedly impact these statistics. When present, drug problems can become focal treatment issues. The GI Drug Scale measures drug (prescription and non-prescription) involvement severity.

A history of drug-related problems could result in an abstainer (current non-user) attaining a low to medium risk Drug Scale score. For this reason, precautions have been built into the GI, to insure identification of "recovering" drug abusers. Many of these precautions are similar to those implemented in the Alcohol Scale score. And, the gambler's answer to the "recovering drug abuser" question is included in the GI report for reference.

Concurrently, elevated Drug and Alcohol Scale scores are indications of polysubstance abuse, and the highest score reflects the gambler's substance of choice. Very dangerous gamblers are identified when both the Alcohol Scale and the Drug Scale are elevated. Any elevated (severe problem) Drug Scale score should be taken very seriously.

Suicide Scale: pathological gamblers experience wide mood swings that vary with winning, losing and what Robert Custer, M.D. termed the “desperation phase.” Gamblers have a higher incidence of suicide attempts than most other clinical groups.

In almost every suicidal act, there are hints of suicidal thinking, before the suicide occurs. Suicidal individuals usually give many hints of their intentions. In most cases there are precursors to suicide. Recognizing these clues is a necessary first step in suicide prevention. The GI Suicide Scale score can identify important precursors. When the gambler’s Suicide Scale is elevated (problem or severe problem) it should not be minimized or ignored.

Stress Management Sale: the Gambler Index (GI) Stress Management Scale determines how well the gambler manages stress. Severely impaired stress coping abilities are usually indicative of other identifiable emotional and mental health problems. Some people handle stress more effectively than others. Stress Management Scale scores in the problem or severe problem range reflect extremely impaired (or a lack of) stress management skills and are often indicative of identifiable emotional or mental health problems. Gambler’s scoring in the problem risk range and higher would benefit from learning more effective coping and stress management strategies. They would benefit from attending “stress management classes.”

It is now known that inability to manage stress exacerbates physical and emotional problems. More specifically, poorly managed stress (pressure, anxiety, etc.) contributes to heightened anxiety, depression and substance (alcohol/drug) use. Thus, an elevated Stress Management Scale score in conjunction with other elevated Gambler Index (GI) scales provides considerable insight into the gambler’s situation. When a gambler doesn’t manage stress well, other problems are usually exacerbated.

In summary, individuals with gambling disorders have high rates of comorbidity with other mental disorders, such as substance (alcohol/drug) abuse, impaired stress management skills, and suicidal ideation. Each of these emotions/coping strategies is represented in the Gambler Index (GI).