ence (lifetime) and for the year prior to the survey (past year). The percentage of adolescents who report having ever gambled during their lifetimes ranges from 39 to 92 percent in those surveys, with the 39 percent value being an outlier (next highest is 62 percent). The median is 85, indicating that a high percentage of adolescents have gambled at some time in their lives. The curious fact that estimates in Table 3-8 for a few lifetime proportions and medians are more uniform across studies than those reported for past-year proportions stems from different subsets of studies and, in some cases, different instruments within studies.

Not all of the studies contributing to Table 3-8 reported the percentage of adolescents participating in specific types of gambling but, among those that did, card games, lotteries, and games of skill were the most common. Although less frequently collected and reported, data on gambling in the past year give a more meaningful estimate of the prevalence of active adolescent gamblers. As Table 3-8 shows, the estimates for any gambling during the past year ranged from 52 to 89 percent over the six studies providing this information. The median value of 73 percent suggests that most adolescents not only gamble, but also have gambled fairly recently. The estimates for specific types of gambling show that the most frequent activities are card games and sports betting. (Appendix C provides information by state on the minimum legal age required to place a bet.)

Pathological and Problem Gamblers

Table 3-9 summarizes the information about the percentage of pathological and problem gamblers among adolescents defined over their lifetimes and for the past year that is available from the studies identified in Table 3-7 (conducted between 1988 and 1997) and for which reported lifetime proportions (necessarily) exceed past-year proportions. The committee urges caution when considering these data, because they stem from different subsets of studies and, in some cases, different instruments within studies. Recognizing these difficulties, nine of the studies conducted in the past 10 years estimated the prevalence of past-year adolescent pathological and problem gambling combined (Levels 2 and 3) and reported these as proportions of those sampled. As shown in



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement