Researchers at the University of Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions released the results of a recent study this week, showing that an estimated 750 000 American teens and young adults are problem gamblers, reports the Wshington Post.
The researchers worked on the basis of defining problem gambling as that associated with three or more negative consequences, such as gambling more than intended or stealing money in order to gamble.
The sample consisted of 2 300 respondents, ages 14 to 21, and canvassed by telephone. It found that 2.1 percent of respondents were problem gamblers in terms of the study definition, giving an estimated nationwide total of about 750 000 young problem gamblers.
11 percent of respondents gambled twice a week or more — considered ‘frequent gambling' – and 68 percent of respondents admitted that they had gambled at least once in the past year.
The findings of the survey, conducted from August 2005 through January 2007, are available online and were expected to be published in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Gambling Studies, reports the Washington Post.
"In a society where young people are increasingly exposed to gambling influences, there is cause for concern," principal investigator and senior research scientist John W. Welte said in a prepared statement.
"As might be expected, all statistically significant results showed that greater gambling involvement is associated with aging into an adult status. In fact, gambling may be associated with the transition into adulthood."
Major life changes such as getting a job, leaving school, living independently from parents, and marriage were all found to have caused increases in individual gambling. Young people who worked full-time were more likely to gamble; those who weren't in school were more likely to gamble frequently (twice a week or more), and those who lived independently were more likely to gamble and to be problem gamblers.
"As far as gender, it seems likely that females' gambling involvement tends to emerge in adulthood, while male involvement can be high in adolescence. We found identical problem gambling rates of 4 percent for adult males and young males," Welte added. "We found adult females' gambling rates at 3 percent were much higher than that of young females (less than one-tenth of a percent). In other words, problem gambling is almost non-existent among female adolescents and young adults."
Other findings rvealed by the study group were that black youth were less likely to have gambled than white youth. But if black youth did gamble, this group were more likely to be frequent gamblers – 30 percent vs. 12 percent.
Asians had the lowest gambling involvement, according to researchers. Native Americans were more likely than whites to be frequent gamblers (28 percent vs. 9 percent) and were more likely to score higher on measures of problem gambling. This may be a reflection of the rapid spread of legal gambling on Native American reservations.
In general, young people with low socioeconomic status were less likely to gamble. However, if they did gamble, they were more likely to be problem gamblers.Young people in the highest socioeconomic groups had the lowest gambling involvement, the survey found