of the adults in the United States meet the SOGS criteria as pathological gamblers on the basis of their gambling activities in the past year. For pathological and problem gambling combined, the committee estimates that the prevalence rate for past-year activity was approximately 2.9 percent.
Applying these rates to the U.S. census estimates of the number of residents age 18 or older in 1997 (196 million) indicates that currently about 1.8 million adults are pathological gamblers and 5.7 million are either pathological or problem gamblers. In relation to drug and alcohol dependence, the current prevalence of pathological gamblers is equivalent to about one-third the estimated rate of drug-dependent persons under DSM-III-R criteria and one-eighth the estimated rate of alcohol-dependent persons.
The few instances of repeated surveys in the same state show either significant increases in the prevalence of pathological and problem gamblers or no significant change, indicating that the national trend over the last decade may be upward. In addition, some of the greatest increases shown in these repeated surveys came over periods of expanded gambling opportunities in the states studied. Although sparse, such evidence is consistent with the view that expansions in the availability of gambling have resulted in increased numbers of pathological and problem gamblers.
The most recent gambling surveys also show that the prevalence rates for pathological and problem gamblers vary substantially for different population subgroups in the states studied. The rates are higher for adolescents than for any of the older age groups and higher for men than for women. Prevalence rates were also higher for minorities than for whites and were somewhat higher for lower-income and less-educated people than for their higher-income and more-educated counterparts. Across subpopulations, therefore, we would expect the prevalence rates for pathological and problem gambling to be highest for minority men, especially adolescents, with relatively low levels of income and education.
The gambling behavior of adolescents has been more frequently studied than that of other vulnerable populations. On the basis of the available studies, the committee estimates that the current prevalence rate for pathological gambling among adoles-