are associated with initiation into gambling, (2) the risk of progression from gambling without problems to problem or pathological gambling, (3) individual factors among multiple factors associated with pathological or problem gambling, and (4) factors that predict chronicity of symptoms of pathological gambling.


In the United States and throughout much of the world, many people begin gambling as children. For example, in a small study of British adolescents ages 13 and 14, the mean age of initiation into gambling for social recreation or entertainment was found to be 8.3 years for boys and 8.9 years for girls (Ide-Smith and Lea, 1988). The literature has also weakly supported a young age of onset of pathological and problem gambling following initiation to gambling (Kallick et al., 1979; Lesieur and Klein, 1987). In a retrospective study, for example, it was found that adult pathological gamblers remembered their gambling addiction to have started when they were between ages 10 and 19 (Dell et al., 1981). In 1990, Griffiths found that adolescents addicted to slot machines began gambling significantly earlier (at 9.2 years of age) than nonaddicted adolescents (who began at 11.3 years of age) (Griffiths, 1990a). In 1997, Gupta and Derevensky (1998a) found that pathological gamblers started gambling, on average, at age 10.9 and nonpathological gamblers at age 11.5.

Studies of teens indicate that young age of onset of gambling is more than an artifact of reporting bias. According to a summary of independent studies of high school students conducted between 1984 and 1988 (Jacobs, 1989b; Lesieur and Klein, 1985; Jacobs et al., 1989), 36 percent of teenage respondents reported gambling before age 11; 46 percent began gambling between ages 11 and 15; and 18 percent began after age 15. Between 6 and 25 percent of the teenagers in these studies reportedly wanted to stop gambling but could not.

These findings are consistent with a study of 892 eleventh and twelfth graders at four high schools in New Jersey, in which 91 percent reported having gambled during their lifetime and 5.7 percent met criteria for pathological gambling as measured by

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