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Given these problems of comparison, the most direct indication that the prevalence rates among adolescents are indeed greater than those among adults comes from research in which the same instruments and criteria are used to assess adolescents and adults in the same survey. For instance, the lower age strata in the adult studies should resemble adolescent samples, even though they rarely include people younger than 18 years old. Pathological and problem gambling rates are not generally reported for distinct age groups. What is reported is the proportion of respondents in each age group among problem gamblers and, separately, among gamblers without problems. These can be compared for a number of the studies listed in Table 3-1.
One study (Reilly and Guida, 1990) presented a comparison for the age group 15-18 that showed a disproportionate number of problem gamblers relative to older age groups. Three other studies (Volberg, 1996a, 1997; New Mexico Department of Health, 1996) broke out the 18-20 age group; in all cases, the proportions were higher for problem gamblers than for those without problems. Another group of studies reported comparisons for the age group 18-24 (Emerson and Laundergan, 1996; Kallick et al., 1979; Laundergan et al., 1990; Wallisch 1993, 1996), all but one of which showed an overrepresentation of younger persons among problem gamblers. These age breakouts from the adult studies therefore support the studies of adolescent populations in revealing more gambling problems among younger respondents.
As noted earlier, while this report was in its final stages, preliminary results were released from the national survey conducted by NORC for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. One component of that study was a survey of 500 youths ages 16 and 17. Using the instrument and procedures developed for the study, NORC estimated the prevalence among youth of pathological and problem gamblers combined at 1.5 percent. However, this estimate was based on responses by youth who reported they had lost $100 or more in a single day or as a net yearly loss. When this financial limitation was removed, the percentage of pathological and problem gamblers under their categorization increased to about 3 percent. In both cases, these figures are quite discrepant from the estimates derived from the studies in Table 3-9, i.e., 6.1 percent for past-year pathological