Comparisons of Gambling and Alcohol Use Among College Students and Non-College Students in the U.S.

Research and Data
Author(s): Barnes, GM, Welte, JW, Hoffman, JH, Tidwell, MC
Year Published: 2017

Overview

The patterns of gambling and alcohol use were compared for college and similarly aged, non-college young adults in the U.S. population. Data was collected a nationally representative household sample of 1,000 U.S. respondents aged 14-21 via telephone interview.

Quantitative Findings

  • Of young adults who gambled in the past year:
    • 75% were college students.
    • 70% were non-college young adults.
  • Of those young adults gambled 52 times or more in the past year:
    • 25% were non-college individuals.
    • 18% were college students.
Identifying as Male
  • 5x the odds of being a heavy or problem gambler as females regardless of college student status.
  • 38% and 31% are the rates of heavy gambling for non-college and college young men, respectively.
Identifying as Female
  • 5% rate of non-college females were identified as struggling with problem gambling.
  • 2% rate of college females were identified as struggling with problem gambling.
  • 12% of non-college females report heavy gambling (compared to 6% of college females).
  • 5% of non-college females struggle with gambling harm (compared to 2% of females attending college).
Identifying as Black
  • 60% increased odds for those identifying as black (yet a 70% decrease in odds of drinking or heavy drinking).

Qualitative Findings

  • Findings from this study support the position that gambling and problem gambling are influenced by broad sociodemographic factors, especially gender and race, and not by college factors per se.
  • College student status does not appear to put young people at added risk of gambling problems.
  • The rates of heavy gambling were higher for non-college young adults than for college students (the opposite of heavy drinking, which is higher among college students).
Identifying as Male
  • Is the most important and consistent risk factor for gambling behaviors whether in college or non-college settings.
  • The most popular forms of gambling for males are lottery, card games, pools and raffles, sports betting and games of skill.
Identifying as Female
  • The most popular forms of gambling for females are lottery, card games, pools and raffles, and bingo.
Identifying as Black
  • Identifying as black:
    • Black individuals are more likely than whites to gamble heavily.
    • Black individuals have increased odds of heavy gambling by 60%.
Socioeconomics
  • Higher socioeconomic status lowered the odds of problem gambling.

 

Identified Risk Factors

  • Being Male.
  • Being Black.
  • Lower Socioeconomic status.

Identified Protective Factors

  • Identifying as female (when comparing male vs female data).

Identified Recommendations

  • Age- and gender-targeted prevention and intervention strategies are warranted to reduce the serious consequences of gambling among young adult males in the U.S. population.

Identified Conclusions

  • College student status does not appear to put young people at added risk of gambling or gambling problems.

Resource

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Citation

Barnes GM, Welte JW, Hoffman JH, Tidwell MC. Comparisons of gambling and alcohol use among college students and noncollege young people in the United States. J Am Coll Health. 2010 Mar-Apr;58(5):443-52. doi: 10.1080/07448480903540499. PMID: 20304756; PMCID: PMC4104810.

Further Reading