Gambling and Compulsive Gambling

Lottery is a form of gambling in which participants purchase tickets for a chance to win cash or merchandise prizes. It is a regulated activity and is usually operated by state or provincial governments. It differs from other forms of gambling, such as gambling on sports events or horse races, in which players bet against each other. Lottery gambling is a behavior that can be addictive, and researchers have documented the association between lottery playing and other problem behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse.

The current study examined patterns of lottery play across the lifespan from adolescence to older adulthood by combining two comparable national surveys of U.S. respondents (youth and adults). The analyses took into account key sociodemographic factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, education and income. The analysis also controlled for ecological factors such as neighborhood disadvantage and whether the lottery was legal in the respondent’s state.

Gender and age were highly significant predictors of lottery playing. Males exhibited significantly greater levels of lottery playing than females. The results of the negative binomial regression indicated that for each additional year of age, the number of days gambled on the lottery increased by 19%. The finding that the lottery playing curve rose with advancing age and then leveled off after the mid-thirties is consistent with other research on gambling and other problem behaviors that occur concurrently, such as alcohol and drug use (Welte et al., 2001; Barnes et al., 2009).

Other sociodemographic factors influenced lottery playing. Socioeconomic status was a strong predictor of lottery playing before control for neighborhood disadvantage was added to the analysis. The association between SES and lottery playing remained robust after controlling for neighborhood disadvantage, and it was found that the middle third of SES had a higher rate of lottery playing than lower or upper SES groups.

The analyses also showed that there was a small group of lottery players who exhibited compulsive consumption traits. These individuals exhibited extremely high responses on the fantasizing dimension and scored highly on other dimensions of compulsive consumption, such as browsing and heavy buying, sensation-seeking and energy. They were also older than other lottery players and tended to engage in other forms of gambling more than those who did not score as compulsives. The findings suggest that the popularity of the lottery is a result of its ability to fulfill a fantasy need and satiate the craving for sensations. In addition, it is a lucrative source of revenue for the states and can be promoted through television advertising. Lottery gambling is therefore both a behavioral and economic issue that is likely to generate continuing debate and criticism, including charges of addiction, its regressive impact on low-income households, and its role in other problems such as crime and drug abuse. These criticisms are often based on limited empirical evidence, but they reflect concerns about the increasing prevalence of lottery gambling. inislot

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