WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an executive summary of a report presented to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission today, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences placed the number of pathological gamblers among the U.S. adult population in a given year at less than 1 percent, confirming the gaming industry’s long held contention that while pathological gambling is an important issue, its prevalence is far lower than critics have contended.
“The NRC report confirms what the industry has been saying for the past three years,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association. “The NRC findings agree with the conclusions reached in the industry-funded study done by the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions.”
Specifically, the report found:
- That individuals who suffer from pathological gambling disorders are a small percentage of the U.S. adult population (0.9 percent prior year and 1.5 percent over the course of a lifetime), rather than the inflated percentages anti-gaming interests have been predicting for years.
- That there is solid evidence of the economic benefits provided by the industry in new gaming jurisdictions, particularly economically depressed communities.
- That the type of research – neuroscience, social and behavioral science, and epidemiology – being done by the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG), an industry-funded undertaking, is, in fact, the type of scientific research that needs to be done. (That finding also flies in the face of opponents who have consistently criticized the NCRG’s work.)
- That much of the research that has been relied upon by anti-gaming advocates is “of limited scientific value.”
- That “pathological gambling often occurs with other behavioral problems, including substance abuse, mood disorders, and personality disorders” and that “pathological gambling may be influenced by familial factors and the social environment.”
Findings from another study reported earlier in the day to the commission found an almost identical prevalence rate. The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago (NORC) reported a lifetime prevalence rate of 0.8 percent. These estimates, coupled with the 1.29 percent prevalence rate reported in the Harvard meta-analysis, form a clear pattern of credible studies from independent, nationally recognized institutions establishing the percentage of pathological gamblers at or near 1 percent.