creased pathological or problem gambling (Jacobs, personal communication to the committee, 1998). Hraba and colleagues (1990) found that participation in a state lottery was associated with a greater involvement in general gambling, which is in turn connected with problem gambling, but Winters and colleagues (1995) found that the Minnesota lottery switched adolescents from illegal to legal gambling and did not increase overall involvement in gambling in the state. The before-and-after study by Wallisch (1996) in Texas did not show consistent increases in the number of pathological gamblers.
Even when more pathological gamblers are concentrated in locations with more opportunities to gamble, the mechanisms behind this phenomenon are little understood. For example, legal gambling could increase the number of people who gamble at least a few times; if pathological gambling is some constant proportion of people who experiment with gambling, then the numbers of pathological gamblers will also increase. Another possibility is that legalization encourages people to gamble more frequently and to spend more money on gambling. This increased gambling activity could place more people at risk for developing gambling problems by increasing their comfort with games, their familiarity with gambling as entertainment, and their likelihood of socializing with other gamblers.
The spread of professional, legal gambling services (e.g., gambling offered by casino companies and government lottery agencies) over the past few decades has probably contributed to increases in public acceptance of gambling as recreation. It has been proposed that more middle-class parents consider gambling safe, family-oriented, and fun, and fewer worry about whether their teenagers gamble than they did in the past (Kearney et al., 1996). These attitude changes could encourage more adolescents to experiment with adult forms of gambling.
Because legalization typically increases the advertising of gambling and the openness of people's gambling behavior, the public is increasingly exposed to gambling behavior. Research on social influence shows that people's behavior typically conforms to that of others in the situation, particularly when the behavior is public and unambiguous (Cialdini, 1993). Adults, as well as children and teenagers, are influenced by their peers (Harris and