Unfortunately, a small percentage of the population does not gamble responsibly, just as a small percentage of the population does not use credit cards responsibly or drink responsibly. In its 1999 report, the federally funded National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) stated: “[T]he vast majority of Americans either gamble recreationally and experience no measurable side effects related to their gambling, or they choose not to gamble at all. Regrettably, some of them gamble in ways that harm themselves, their families, and their communities.”(1)
Studies suggest pathological gambling is confined to about 1 percent or less of the U.S. adult population. According to research commissioned by the NGISC, the rate could be anywhere from 0.1 percent or 0.6 percent(2) to 0.9 percent.(3) According to a 1997 meta-analysis conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions, 1.1 percent of the adult population of the United States and Canada can be classified as having the clinical disorder known as pathological gambling.(4) The results of the Harvard study, later published in the American Journal of Public Health, have been praised by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences as “the best current estimates of pathological and problem gambling among the general U.S. population and selected subpopulations…”(5)
Regardless of the number of people affected, the industry has been pro-active in promoting responsible gaming. Through a combination of public education efforts and funding of peer-reviewed, independent research, the industry has worked to improve diagnosis, prevention and treatment of this disorder.
- National Gambling Impact Study Commission, Final Report (Washington, D.C.: GPO, June 1999), 1-1.
- National Opinion Research Center, et al., Gambling Impact and Behavior Study, report prepared for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (Chicago: University of Chicago, April 1, 1999), 25.
- National Research Council, Pathological Gambling: A Critical Review (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1999), 3.
- Howard J. Shaffer, Matthew N. Hall and Joni Vander Bilt, Estimating the Prevalence of Disordered Gambling Behavior in the United States and Canada: A Meta-analysis (Boston: Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions, December 15, 1997), 38. See also the American Journal of Public Health 89, no. 9 (1999): 1371.
- National Research Council, 67.