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Gambling Participation in the U.S.—Results from a National Survey


Demographic patterns of gambling participation in the U.S. were examined. A national telephone survey was conducted with 2,630 representative U.S. residents aged 18 or older. The sample as weighted for analysis was 48% male, 12% black, and 11% Hispanic. Respondents were questioned on 15 types of gambling: how often they played and how much they won or lost. Eighty-two percent gambled in the past year. Lottery was the most commonly played game, while casino gambling accounted for the largest extent of gambling involvement. Men and women were equally likely to gamble in the past year, but men gambled more frequently and had larger wins and losses, particularly on sports betting and games of skill. Blacks were less likely to have gambled in the past year, but blacks who gambled did so more heavily than other racial groups. Blacks and Hispanics were more likely than average to be pathological gamblers. The rate of past year gambling declined with age, but extent of gambling involvement among gamblers did not vary with age. Rates of participation in most forms of gambling increased with socioeconomic status, but higher socioeconomic status gamblers had lower rates of pathological gambling, and lower extent of gambling involvement, particularly for lottery. New Englanders gambled more heavily than other Americans. Comparison with past studies showed an increase in overall gambling participation in the U.S., and large increases in rates of participation in lottery and casino gambling.

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Correspondence to John W. Welte.

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Welte, J.W., Barnes, G.M., Wieczorek, W.F. et al. Gambling Participation in the U.S.—Results from a National Survey. J Gambl Stud 18, 313–337 (2002).

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