The National Council on Problem Gambling, an independent organization not funded by the gaming industry, reports the following statistics on gambling:1
- 85% of U.S. adults have gambled at least once in their lifetimes (60% in any given year).
- About 1% are pathological gamblers (clearly addicted). Problem gamblers account for another 2 to 3%.
- Legal gambling is available in 48 states; Hawaii and Utah are the only exceptions.
Statistics show that access correlates with problem gambling
The availability of gambling opportunities is related to the number of problem gamblers and the age at which people start gambling. Nevada, a state where gaming is freely available, reports higher figures2:
- 6% of Nevada adults may be problem or pathological gamblers (twice the national rate).
- 2% of adolescents may be problem gamblers.
- 10% of Nevada’s youth are considered ‘at risk’ to develop a gambling problem.
Statistics of younger problem gamblers
Of particular concern is the rise in teen and college aged gambling. Family First Aid3 reports an increase in gambling of 600% in this age group between 2001 and 2005. The reasons cited are the spread of legalized casino gambling and Internet gambling. Statistics for online gambling show young people are often drawn to the video game style of Internet gaming sites and seem comfortable playing (and paying) online.
The American Gaming Association publishes revenue figures on legal gambling.4 In 2007, the total spent was over $92 Billion. The top gambling venues were:
- Casinos (commercial and Native American): 60.43 Billion
- State Lotteries: 24.78 Billion
- Charitable games and bingo: 2.2 Billion
- Card rooms: 1.18 Billion
Problem gambling and suicide
One of the scariest gambling statistics is reported by the Oklahoma Association for Gambling Addiction Awareness: “A survey of Gamblers Anonymous members in the United States found that 48 percent had considered suicide and 13 percent had attempted it.”5
photo by Mary Helen McNally
- The National Council on Problem Gambling
- Nevada Council on Problem Gambling
- Family First Aid
- American Gaming Association
- Oklahoma Association for Gambling Addiction Awareness