This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

RIA summary outlines problem gambling

Problem gambling is more common than alcohol dependence in the U.S., according to researchers at UB’s Research Institute on Addictions.

Published: May 17, 2012

Living within 10 miles of a casino doubles your risk of problem gambling. This is just one of the compelling statistics in the third “Expert Summary” issued by UB’s Research Institute on Addictions.

The first two summaries highlighted RIA research findings on misuse of energy drinks and the prevalence of drinking in the workplace.

Kenneth Leonard, director of RIA, says the expert summaries are consistent with RIA’s mission to educate the public, policymakers and practitioners by making them more aware of the institute’s work studying addiction in all its forms.

RIA researchers have been studying the country’s growing concern with gambling since the late 1990s. They conducted one of the first national gambling studies—not funded by a gambling-related institution but by the National Institutes of Health—surveying U.S. adults nationwide about drinking and gambling habits.

The gambling Expert Summary is based primarily on the work of RIA senior research scientists John Welte and Grace Barnes.

According to the most recent findings of RIA researchers:

  • Problem gambling is considerably more common than alcohol dependence in the U.S.
  • Gambling, frequent gambling and problem gambling increase in frequency during the teen years, reaching their highest level in the 20s and 30s.
  • Frequent gambling among men is twice that of gambling in women.

According to the findings of RIA researchers within the past decade:

  • More than 80 percent of Americans gamble every year and between 3 to 5 percent of Americans (three to five out of every 100) have a gambling problem.
  • Problem drinkers are 23 times more likely to have a gambling problem than individuals without alcohol problems.
  • An estimated 750,000 of U.S. youth between the ages of 14 and 21 are problem gamblers.
  • Gambling activity was found to increase as youth age.

The full text of the Expert Summary on gambling, as well as past expert summaries, are available on the RIA website.