Monday, August 22, 2011

Among Adults, Compulsive Gambling Worse Problem Than Booze

The University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (using data from two different studies) published a surprising report last month which concluded that gambling problems among adults are more common than addictions to alcohol.

What might otherwise be an academic debate could have bigger consequences for the gaming industry, which has long fought criticism that gambling creates social ills that go unaccounted for in official statistics. Casinos are subject to high “sin” taxes in states where they are granted monopolies, with some tax money diverted to help problem gamblers. There’s still relatively little money for problem gambling treatment in the United States, in part because it has been viewed by academics and industry officials as rare.

Welte’s research found that the prevalence of alcohol problems peaks at a younger age and drops off significantly after age 21, a similar trend found elsewhere and possibly explained by the fact that young people tend to engage in risky behavior more than adults.

By contrast, the prevalence of gambling problems increases after 21, peaking at ages 31 through 40 and declining slowly until later adulthood, when it falls off significantly, the study found...