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Adolescent Gambling in Oregon:

A report to the
Oregon Gambling Addiction
Treatment Foundation

Matthew J. Carlson, Ph.D.
Institute of Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey


Thomas L. Moore, Ph.D.
Herbert & Louis
Wilsonville, Oregon

December 1, 1998

Funded by the Oregon Gambling Addiction Treatment Foundation
Salem, Oregon




In August of 1998, the Oregon Gambling Addiction Treatment Foundation commissioned a study with the purpose of estimating the prevalence of gambling behavior and pathological gambling among Oregon youth ages thirteen to seventeen. Although this survey was conducted and carried out by Matthew Carlson and Thomas Moore, it would not have been possible without the help of many individuals and organizations who assisted with the project. The authors would like to thank Mr. Michael McCracken for his untiring assistance in making this study a reality. Without the gracious support of the Spirit Mountain Community Fund and the Oregon Lottery this study would not have been possible.

The authors would also like to thank Rina Gupta, Sue Fisher, Henry Lesieur, Randy Stinchfield, Ken Winters, Norval Glenn, and Dan Mears for their collegial support and suggestions during the process.

Copies of this report can be obtained by contacting:

Oregon Gambling Addiction Treatment Foundation
PO Box 866
Salem, Oregon 97308
(503) 399-7201


Executive Summary

The Oregon Gambling Addiction Treatment Foundation commissioned this independent study to measure the estimated prevalence of gambling and problem gambling among Oregon youth ages 13 to 17. This telephone survey of 1000 randomly selected youth in Oregon was conducted in September and October of 1998. The Key findings of this study are as follows:

Seventy-five percent (_ 3) of the respondents surveyed reported gambling for money at least once in their lives and 66% (_ 3) reported gambling last year. As with prevalence studies done in other states, this study found that boys and older adolescents were more likely to gamble than girls and younger adolescents (Volberg, 1993; Westphal, 1998; Winters, Stinchfield and Fulkerson, 1993b). This study found that between 140,777 to 154,185 adolescents gambled for money in the last 12 months.
The rate of level 2 (in-transition) gambling is estimated by this study at 11.2% (_ 2%). The rate of level 3 (problem) gambling is estimated at 4.1% (_ 2). These rates appear to be slightly lower than rates of the few states which have conducted studies and used similar techniques for estimating problem gambling including Washington State, Minnesota and Louisiana.
The study findings recommend the development of treatment opportunities for youth with problems associated with gambling. It is estimated that between 20,558 and 29,496 adolescents are level 2 gamblers while between 4,693 and 13,631 are level 3 gamblers.
It is estimated that between 94 and 272 adolescents should access treatment each year.
Of those adolescents who reported gambling, 4.0 percent reported daily gambling while 13.3 percent reported weekly gambling for money. Boys were more likely to be frequent gamblers than girls.
Among 13 to 17 year-olds, 39% (_ 3) have played the Oregon Lottery at least once in their life, and 30% (_ 3) reported playing last year. At least 50% of the young lottery players obtain the tickets from family members, and 35% buy them illegally, primarily at grocery stores and convenience stores. This finding was similar to those in other states (Shaffer, H.J., Hall, M.N. and Vander Bilt, J., 1997)
Approximately 19% (_ 2) of the respondents reported gambling in a casino at least once in their lives, and 12% (_ 2) reported gambling in a casino last year. This finding was similar to those in other states (Shaffer, H.J., Hall, M.N. and Vander Bilt, J., 1997). Approximately 50% of those reporting casino gambling reported doing so out of State.
Of the other forms of gambling, purchasing raffle tickets (41%) was the most frequently cited, followed by betting on sports with friends or relatives (32%); playing cards (31%) and betting on games of skill, such as pool or bowling, (25%).
The youth in this survey were significantly more likely to gamble and were also more likely to begin gambling earlier (in grade school) if one or both of their parents gamble.
Age of onset may be decreasing in Oregon. Younger respondents (13 and 14 years old) were significantly more likely to report gambling in grade school than older respondents (15 to 17 years old). In addition, respondents who reported gambling in grade school were significantly more likely to be problem gamblers.
As found in other studies, there is a moderate correlation between gambling and alcohol, drug, and tobacco use (Westphal et al., 1998).
Less than one percent reported gambling with money on the Internet.
Prevention efforts, targeting grade and middle school aged children, are indicated. The association of problem gambling with other risk behaviors such as smoking and alcohol and drug use would indicate these prevention efforts could be blended with existing efforts formally integrated into the private and public school curricula.


List of Tables

Table 1.1

Classification of Adolescent Gambling

Table 1.2

Sample Characteristics

Table 2.1

Lifetime and One-Year Gambling Prevalence Rates

Table 2.2

Lottery Gambling

Table 2.3

Lottery Gambling by Game

Table 2.4

Where Lottery Tickets are Obtained

Table 2.5

Casino Gambling

Table 2.6

Other Gambling Activities

Table 2.7

Prevalence Rates for Other Forms of Gambling

Table 2.8

Gambling Prevalence by County

Table 2.9

Frequency of Gambling

Table 2.10

Average Monthly Gambling Expenditures

Table 2.11

Average Weekly Income

Table 2.12

Grade of Onset

Table 2.13

Grade of Onset and Frequency of Gambling

Table 2.14

Youth Gambling and Parental Gambling

Table 2.15

Grade of Onset and Parental Gambling

Table 2.16

Drug Use and Gambling

Table 2.17

Correlation Between Frequency of Gambling and Frequency of Substance Use

Table 2.18

Frequency of Lottery Gambling and Advertising Recall

Table 2.19

Frequency of Casino Gambling and Advertising Recall

Table 2.20

Frequency of Advertising Recall by Type

Table 2.21

Responses to the Question: To what extent, in general, do you feel gambling is a good way to make money?

Table 2.22

Responses to the Question: Some say that people get ahead by their own hard work; others say that lucky breaks or help from other people are more important.  Which do you think is most important?

Table 3.1

Prevalence of Level 2 and Level 3 Gambling

Table 3.2

Prevalence of Level 2 and Level 3 Gambling for At-Risk Population

Table 3.3

Gender, Age, Race Distribution of At-Risk Level 2 and Level 3 Gamblers

Table 3.4

Grade of Onset and Problem Gambling

Table 3.5

Parental Gambling and Problem Gambling

Table 3.6a

Grade of Onset and Problem Gambling

Table 3.6b

Children of Gambling Parents

Table 3.6c

Children of Non-Gambling Parents

Table 3.7

Correlation of Substance Use and Level of Gambling

Table 3.8

Comparing Oregon With Other States



Gambling is an increasingly popular leisure activity enjoyed in the United States by a majority of adults and youth. Most adolescents gamble, and most of those who do so experience few problems associated with gambling. According to a recent review of 22 studies of adolescent gambling which were conducted in the U.S. and Canada, between 86% and 93% of youth have gambled at least once in their life, and between 3% and 8% of adolescents are problem gamblers (Shaffer, Hall and Vander Bilt, 1997). However, it is also clear that youth may have more trouble controlling their gambling behavior than adults (Derevensky and Gupta, 1996, Lesieur and Klein, 1987; Stinchfield, Cassuto, Winters and Latimer,1997). Rates of problem gambling among youth are considerably higher than the rates for adult problem gambling. The findings of this study and those of the Oregon Adult Gambling Prevalence Study (Volberg, 1997) completed in August, 1997 show this tendency to be true in Oregon.

Not only are youth at greater risk of experiencing problems associated with gambling behavior, those who do may be at greater risk of experiencing gambling related problems as adults. Recent research suggests that early onset of gambling may be associated with the development of problem gambling later in life (Volberg, 1994). Thus, not only does adolescent gambling behavior carry the potential for serious negative consequences for youth, if left unchecked, frequent gambling in adolescence may develop into problem gambling in adulthood. Because of this, understanding adolescent gambling is of crucial importance not only to reduce negative consequences associated with youth gambling, but also to arrest the development of gambling problems which may be carried into adulthood. Understanding the prevalence and risk-factors for adolescent problem gambling is an important issue which ultimately may help reduce the social cost associated with both adolescent and adult gambling problems.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to estimate the prevalence of gambling behavior and problem gambling by analyzing a survey of 1000 Oregon adolescents ages 13 to 17 about the nature and extent of their gambling behavior. This survey is also intended to be used as a baseline from which future studies can evaluate changes in adolescent gambling over time. Additionally, this report identifies various factors that may be associated with increased risk of pathological gambling. Finally, this study was designed to estimate the number of youth that may benefit from prevention or treatment interventions.

This study addresses the following questions:

How many of Oregon's adolescents gamble?
In what forms of gambling do adolescents participate?
At what age do adolescents begin gambling?
What is the prevalence of problem gambling among adolescents in Oregon?
Is gambling related to substance abuse?
Does gambling by parents influence the likelihood of gambling and problem gambling in adolescents?
Are gamblers more aware of lottery and/or casino advertising than non-gamblers?

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