Young problem gamblers losing their shirts

Young problem gamblers losing their shirts

Gambling activity is widespread among U.S. adolescents and young adults, according to a study conducted by the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo (N.Y.). Results of the first national survey of its kind show problem gambling–described as gambling with three or more negative consequences (for example, betting more than intended or stealing money to gamble) in the past year–occurring at a rate of 2.1% among youth ages 14 to 21. That projects to approximately 750,000 young problem gamblers nationwide.

In addition, 11% of the youth surveyed gambled twice per week or more, a rate that describes frequent gambling. Sixty-eight percent of those interviewed reported that they had gambled at least once in the past year. “As might be expected, all statistically significant results showed that greater gambling involvement is associated with aging into an adult status,” states John W. Welte, principal investigator on the study. “In fact, gambling may be associated with the transition into adulthood.”

The researchers examined pivotal times for youth (employment, student status, living independently from parents, and marriage) and found gambling increased with each major life change. Those who worked full time were more likely to gamble; those who were not students were likely to gamble frequently (twice a week or more); and those who lived independently were more likely to gamble and be problem gamblers.

“We compared problem gambling rates among youth with problem gambling rates among adults,” Welte relates. “As far as gender, it seems likely that females’ gambling involvement tends to emerge in adulthood, while male involvement can be high in adolescence.”

Black youth were less likely to have gambled than white youth but, if they did, it was likely to be more frequent (30% vs. 12%, respectively). Asians showed the lowest involvement. Native Americans were found to have a higher rate of frequent gambling (28%) when compared to whites (nine percent) as well as to be higher on measures of problem gambling. This could be a reflection of the rapid spread of legal gambling venues on Indian reservations. Generally, low socioeconomic groups were less likely to gamble but, if they did, were more likely to be problem gamblers.

COPYRIGHT 2008 Society for the Advancement of Education

COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning