, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 575-586

Gambling on the Lottery: Sociodemographic Correlates Across the Lifespan

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Abstract

Two representative U.S. telephone surveys of gambling were conducted—an adult survey of adults aged 18 years and older (n = 2,631) and a youth survey of young people aged 14–21 years old (n = 2,274). Because the questions and methods were the same or similar in both surveys, the data from these two surveys were combined into a single dataset to examine the prevalence and sociodemographic correlates of gambling and problem gambling across the lifespan. The present work focused specifically on gambling on the lottery which is the most prevalent form of gambling in the U.S. The frequency of gambling on the lottery increased sharply from mid adolescence to age 18 which is the legal age to purchase lottery tickets in most states; lottery play continued to increase into the thirties when it leveled off and remained high through the sixties and then decreased among those 70 years and older. Considering multiple sociodemographic factors together in a negative binomial regression, the average number of days of lottery gambling was significantly predicted by male gender, age, neighborhood disadvantage and whether or not lottery was legal in the state where the respondent lived. These findings can be used to inform policies regarding lotteries in the U.S.