Prevalence of Youth Gambling

Why Is Gambling More Prevalent Now?

Why, you ask? Because this is the first generation of young adults who have been exposed to legalized gambling, and to a wide array of advertising and marketing for various forms of gambling throughout their lives!1 Another possible cause is the frequent portrayal of gambling as entertaining and harmless in the media, without a balanced portrayal of the risks or potential negative consequences (Bandura, 1986).

Also, children and adolescents also tend to model their own behavior based on those behaviors they see in people they personally value, be it parents, friends or role models. For example, seeing popular celebrities playing televised poker or advertising internet gambling sites, or seeing characters in films gambling would likely promote the activity amongst adolescents and young adults.

Quick Facts

  • A recent study by Louisiana State University Professor James Westphal surveyed 12,000 adolescents and found that:
    • 86% had gambled, including many on legal forms
    • 32% had played the lottery
    • 24% had played video poker
    • 16% had played other slot machines
    • 10% had bet on horse or dog races1 
  • “Approximately 70 percent of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 have gambled at least once in the past year. That’s the highest (percentage) in our nation’s history.” (Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, quoted in Current Health 1, February 2006).2
  • In 1991, Atlantic City casinos refused entry to approximately 194,000 underage gamblers, and another 21,000 were removed from gambling areas within the casinos.3 


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