The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) is a test specifically designed for gambler assessment. The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) has 166 items and takes 35 minutes to complete. It is computer-scored on-site with reports printed within 2½ minutes of data entry. The GAI is standardized on gamblers (male and female) ranging in age from 17 to 75 years.


  • Gambler assessment/evaluation
  • Gambler treatment programs
  • Casino gambler assistance programs
  • Probation department gambler caseloads
  • Gambler assessment in clinics, counseling settings, courts and service provider groups


The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) has been standardized on gamblers. More specifically, the GAI’s standardization research involved people being treated for gambling and related problems and probationers with gambling-related problems. GAI research is summarized in the “GAI: An Inventory of Scientific Findings” which can be provided upon request.

The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) is designed for evaluating gamblers outlook, problems and behavior. The GAI contains seven measures (scales) that assess client truthfulness, gambling involvement, suicide ideation, substance (alcohol and other drugs) use and abuse, attitudes and stress handling abilities.


Gambling includes a variety of wagering activities, both licit and illicit. For example, gambling activities include bingo, lottery, casinos, card games, parimutuels, slot machines, games of skill, dice games, table games, sports events, internet gambling, etc. The ubiquitous presence of gambling touches most people either directly or indirectly at some point in their lives.

The term “problem gambler” has been used in different ways. It has been used to describe gamblers that lose excessive amounts of money (Rosecrance, 1988), or to identify gamblers in the preliminary stages of pathological gambling (Lesieur and Rosenthal, 1991). Behavior Data Systems, Ltd. (BDS) accepts the National Council on Problem Gambling (1994) definition “all of the patterns of gambling behavior that comprise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits.”

Pathological gambling was first recognized as a psychiatric disorder in 1980. This pathological gambling criterion now includes research that links pathological gambling to other addictive disorders like alcohol and drug abuse/dependency. The American Psychiatric Association (1994) noted “the essential features of pathological gambling are a continuous or periodic loss of control over gambling, a progression in gambling frequency and amount wagered and an established preoccupation with gambling having adverse consequences.”

Researchers conservatively estimate that 1.6% of all the adult population meets the criteria for pathological gambling, and another 3.9% meet the criteria for problem gambling (NGIPC, 1999). The statistics for adolescents, although less reliable, are higher (Castellani, 2003). It is estimated that there are approximately 15.4 million Americans with gambling-related problems (NGIPC, 1999).

The cost of problem and pathological gambling can be very high, not only for gamblers but also for their families. Pathological gamblers experience physical as well as psychological stress and exhibit mood swings (including depression), substance (alcohol and other drugs) abuse and suicidal ideation (Rachel A. Volberg, Ph. D., 1997). “Pathological gambling is one of the most rapidly growing , but largely ignored, mental health problems in the United States (Abbott, et. al., 1995).

Addicted gamblers have what has been described as a “hidden” disease. Gamblers don’t stumble, have needle marks in their arms or become visibly ill. Gambling resources are rather limited because many people do not perceive gambling as an addictive disorder. Yet, the identification of problem and pathological (addicted) gamblers is an important first step in their recovery.

Serious gambling problems typically result in significant debt, family disruption, job loss, criminal activity or suicide. Pathological gamblers are characterized by wide mood swings, remorse, blaming others (projection and rationalization) and the alienation of family and friends. Gamblers often experience feelings of being overwhelmed emotionally, hopelessness, suicidal ideation and attempts, divorce, substance (alcohol and other drugs) abuse and related problems. With this type of gambler addiction information, we can identify important areas of inquiry that help our understanding of gamblers and their life situation.

Important Gambler Assessment Index Features

TRUTHFULNESS: Gamblers are notorious liars. Problem, addicted and pathological gamblers typically minimize their gambling and associated losses. They rationalize their lifestyle and manifest denial. When assessing a gamblers life situation it is important to determine if the gambler is telling the truth. Consequently, a meaningful “gambler test” must incorporate a reliable, valid and accurate Truthfulness Scale. The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) has such a Truthfulness Scale.

SUICIDE SCALE: Pathological gamblers experience wide mood swings that vary with winning, losing and what Robert Custer, M.D. termed the “desperation” phase. This helps explain why pathological (addicted) gamblers have a higher incidence of suicide than most other clinical groups. Suicide is an important area of gambler inquiry. The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) has a Suicide Scale.

GAMBLER SEVERITY SCALE: measures client gambling involvement on a continuum from none or some gambling (low risk, zero to 39th percentile), through social gambling (medium risk, 40 to 69th percentile), to problem gambling (problem risk, 70 to 89th percentile) and severe problem (90 to 100th percentile) gambling. The Gambler Severity Scale quantifies gambling involvement. This scale assesses attitudes and behaviors important for understanding gamblers. It measures severity of gambler-related problems.

: incorporates DSM-IV pathological gambler criteria. The ten DSM-IV criteria were reworded and reformatted into the “DSM-IV Gambling Scale.” Admission to 5 or more to these criteria items results in classification as a pathological gambler. This is a classification procedure. Admission to 3 or 4 of these DSM-IV criteria classifies the respondent as a “problem gambler.” And admission to 1 or 2 of these DSM-IV criteria classifies the respondent as a “social gambler.”

ALCOHOL SCALE: It is an understatement to say that most gambling occurs in settings serving beer, wine or other liquors. Many pathological gamblers have drinking problems. Identifying drinking problems, and when they exist determining their severity is important. The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) has an Alcohol Scale designed for this purpose.

DRUGS SCALE: Illicit drug use is becoming more prevalent in gambler’s lives. Here we are referring to marijuana, cocaine, crack, speed, barbiturates, amphetamines, heroin, etc. When present, drug problems can become focal treatment issues. The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) has a Drugs Scale that measures the severity of drug use or abuse

STRESS COPING ABILITIES: Impaired stress handling abilities require treatment. And we now understand that impaired stress handling abilities contribute to emotional and mental health symptomatology. The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) has a Stress Coping Abilities Scale that determines the presence and/or severity of stress-related problems. Pathologic gamblers create and live in high stress environments.

Seven GAI Scales (Measures)

1. Truthfulness Scale: measures how truthful the gambler was while completing the GAI. This scale identifies defensiveness, denial, attempts to “fake good” and problem minimization.
2. Gambler Severity Scale: measures gambling interest and involvement on a continuum from normal (low risk) to pathological (severe problem). This scale measures severity of gambling problems.
3. DSM-IV Gambling Scale: in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) a person must agree to 5 or more of 10 criteria to be classified a Pathological Gambler. This classification scale identifies pathological gamblers.
4. Alcohol Scale: measures alcohol (beer, wine and other liquor) use and abuse. This scale measures the severity of alcohol abuse.
5. Drugs Scale: measures illicit drug (marijuana, crack, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, barbiturates and heroin) use and abuse. This scale measures the severity of illicit drug abuse.
6. Suicide Scale: identifies suicide prone individuals. Gamblers are often desperate, overwhelmed and potentially suicidal when losing a lot of money.
7. Stress Coping Abilities Scale: measures how well the gambler copes with stress, tension and pressure. Stress exacerbates emotional problems. This scale is a non-introversive way to screen for established (diagnosable) emotional and mental health problems.

The interaction of these seven attitudes and behaviors (scales) largely determines the gambler’s outlook and subsequent behavior. For more information on scale interpretation, click on the GAI Scale Interpretation link. Many mental health counselors believe understanding the gambler’s scores on these seven scales (measures) is necessary, if not essential, to understanding a gamblers life situation.

The following navigational links make important Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) information available. They allow visitors to progress at their own comfortable rate - reviewing information deemed important to them. Some visitors will click on each of the following links, whereas others will select links that are important to them. Serious GAI readers will go to Behavior Data Systems (BDS) website at Navigational links are in the left margin of these BDS site pages. Click on the “Tests Alphabetically Listed” link, scroll down to the Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) link and click on the tests name. You will then go directly to the GAI webpage which contains much more GAI test information.


Behavior Data Systems, Ltd.

  • Why Select the GAI?
  • GAI Research Study
  • GAI Example Report
  • How To Order

Why Select the GAI

The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) meets and exceeds most, if not all, gambler assessment and screening criteria. It is a popular gambler test and its use is spreading throughout the United States. The GAI’s seven scales measure important gambler attitudes and behaviors. And its built-in database facilitates cost effective database analysis and annual testing program summary reports. These two unique features -- ongoing database analysis and annual summary reports -- are provided free. The GAI is a reliable, valid and accurate gambler assessment instrument or test. The GAI takes 35 minutes to complete and 2½ minutes to score and print reports on-site.

For more GAI information click on the BDS website link. It’s reasonable to conclude the GAI is one of the few tests designed just for gambler assessment. And it is a reliable, valid and accurate test. Many evaluators believe the GAI is the state-of-the-art in contemporary gambler assessment. The GAI is also very affordable. Click on the GAI Test Unit Fee link to review GAI cost.

Reliability, Validity and Accuracy

GAI standardization validity and reliability research is reported in the document “GAI: An Inventory of Scientific Findings” which can be provided upon request. Early studies used criterion measures and were validated with other tests, e.g., Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), MacAndrews, experienced staff ratings, SAQ-Adult Probation III, etc. GAI research extends over 18 years. Many studies have been done on thousands of gamblers. GAI norms are based on gamblers and this database research is ongoing. A GAI research study is available for review by clicking on this GAI Research Study link.

The following table summarizes a reliability (coefficient alpha) study that was completed in 2002.

Reliability (N=190)







Truthfulness Scale

Alcohol Scale

Drugs Scale




Coping Abilities















All GAI scales have alpha coefficients well above the professionally accepted standard of .80 and are highly reliable. All coefficient alphas are significant at the p<.001 significance level. That’s right, two zeros after the decimal point. For more information on the GAI click on the BDS website link. And you can review more research by clicking on the GAI Research Study link.

GAI Unique Features

FREE EXAMINATION KIT: A two test GAI demonstration diskette is available on a 30-day cost free basis. To request a free examination kit, click on the Free Examination Kit request link.

TEST COMPARISON CHECKLIST: Lists important test qualities. If you are selecting a gambler assessment instrument or test, the “Test Comparison Checklist” should be helpful. Click on the Test Comparison Checklist link to compare tests.

GAI SCALE INTERPRETATION: There are several levels of GAI interpretation ranging from viewing the GAI as a self-report to interpreting scale elevations and scale interrelationships. More information on understanding and interpreting GAI scale scores is available by clicking on the GAI Scale Interpretation link.

CONFIDENTIALITY: Behavior Data Systems encourages test users to delete client names from diskettes before they are returned to Behavior Data Systems. This proprietary "name deletion" procedure involves a few keystrokes and insures client confidentiality. Once clients' names are deleted, they are gone and cannot be retrieved. Deleting client names does not delete demographics or test data, which is downloaded into the tests database for subsequent analysis. This "name deletion" procedure insures confidentiality and compliance with HIPPA (federal regulation 45 C.F.R. 164.501).

COST (TEST UNIT FEE): Click on the Cost (Test Unit Fee) link to review GAI cost. There is only the one cost or charge and that is the Test Unit Fee which is very affordable.

EXAMPLE REPORT: To go directly to the GAI example report click on this GAI Example Report link. In brief, GAI reports summarize the gamblers self-reported information and scores. The gamblers scale scores are reported, explained and when warranted score-related recommendations are made.

GAI RESEARCH: The GAI: An Inventory of Scientific Findings summarizes much of the GAI research and it can be provided upon request. GAI research is also available on BDS’s website And a GAI research study can be reviewed by clicking on the GAI Research Study link.

FOUR WAYS TO GIVE THE GAI: The GAI can be administered in three different ways: 1. Paper-pencil test booklet format is the most popular. 2. Tests can be given directly on the computer screen. 3. Human voice audio in English and Spanish. This involves earphones, a computer and simple instructions. For test administration information visit the BDS website And, 4. Internet testing, visit to learn how administer one free Gambler Addiction Index test over the internet.

HOW TO ORDER TESTS: To order Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) tests click on the How To Order Tests link. This webpage gives you a “1-2-3 step” way to order tests by mail, fax, e-mail, telephone or online.


Problem and pathological gamblers are much more problem prone than most other clinical groups. They are notoriously defensive, guarded and secretive. They often minimize their gambling involvement and the losses. Many gamblers also have substance (alcohol and other drugs) abuse problems. As a group, gamblers have a higher incidence of suicide attempts than other patients. Their attitude, outlook and morale seem to vary with their winning or losing. And many problem gamblers have poorly developed stress handling abilities. Reliable, valid and accurate assessment helps to cut through their denial and assist them in recognizing the realities of their life situation. If you’re looking for a reliable, valid, helpful and accurate gambler assessment instrument or test, we suggest you consider the Gambler Addition Index (GAI).

Additional information can be provided upon request.

Behavior Data Systems, Ltd.
P.O. Box 44256
Phoenix, Arizona 85064-4256

Telephone: (602) 234-3506
Fax: (602) 266-8227


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Some References

  1. American Psychiatric Association, 1994, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, D.C. American Psychiatric Association
  2. Lesieur, H.R. and R.J. Rosenthal, 1991. "Pathological Gambling: A Review of the Literature." Journal of Gambling Studies, 7 (1): 5-40.
  3. Rosecrance, J. 1988. Gambling Without Guilt: The Legalization of an American Pastime. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  4. Volberg, R.A. 1996. “Prevalence Studies of Problem Gambling in the United States,” Journal of Gambling Studies, 12 (2): 111-128.
  5. National Council of Problem Gambling, 1994. The Need for a National Policy on Problem and Pathological Gambling in America. Report prepared for the Research and Public Policy Committee of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
  6. Abbott, Douglas A., Sheron, L. Cramer and Steven D. Sherrets, 1995. “Pathological Gambling and the Family: Practice Implications.” Families in Society, 76, #4 (April): 213-17.
  7. Castellani, Brian, 2003. Is Pathological Gambling Really a Problem?-You Bet! Psychiatric Times, February 2001, Vol. XVIII, Issue 2.
  8. NGIPC (1999). Final Report. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission. Washington, D.C.: NGIPC.
  9. National Research Council (1999), Pathological Gambling: A Critical Review. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
  10. Volberg, Rachel A. 1997. Gambling and Problem Gambling in Oregon. Report to the Oregon Gambling Addiction Treatment Foundation.