and etiology of pathological gambling and when trying to estimate prevalence.
The Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of Pathological Gambling has conducted an extensive review of the relevant scientific literature. The committee concludes that pathological gambling is a significant enough problem to warrant funding support for a more sustained, comprehensive, and scientific set of research activities than currently exists.
The availability of legal gambling has increased sharply in the past 20 years. More people are gambling, and they are wagering more. As a result, there is increased concern about pathological gambling. Clinical evidence suggests that pathological gamblers engage in destructive behaviors: they commit crimes, they run up large debts, they damage relationships with family and friends, and they kill themselves. With the increased availability of gambling and new gambling technologies, pathological gambling has the potential to become even more widespread. A greater understanding of this problem through scientific research is critical. Recent methodological and theoretical advances in epidemiology, medicine, and the social and behavioral sciences should aid this understanding.
The committee estimates that 1.5 percent of adults in the United States, at some time in their lives, have been pathological gamblers. We estimate that, in a given year, 0.9 percent of adults in the United States, or 1.8 million, are pathological gamblers. Men are more likely than women to be pathological gamblers, and the proportion of pathological gamblers among adolescents is higher than it is among adults. The committee estimates that, in a given year, as many as 1.1 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 are pathological gamblers. However, the committee recognizes that adolescent measures of pathological gambling are not always comparable to adult measures and that different thresholds for adolescent gambling problems may exist. Given various ways in which pathological gambling has been operationalized in prevalence studies among adolescents, this estimate should be viewed with caution.
Because the existing research on other subgroups in the population is less well developed, the committee was unable to determine the degree to which other groups, such as elderly