The purposes of this study were to: (a) identify theoretical constructs that correlate with adolescent gambling behavior, and (b) test models for predicting adolescent gambling behavior using Problem Behavior Theory as a conceptual framework. The study postulates that psychosocial variables found in three theoretical domains, the personality system, the perceived environment system, and the behavior system, correlate with adolescent gambling behavior. Moreover, adolescent gambling behavior occurs across the three theoretical constructs.
Data for this research comes from the Gambling Impact and Behavior Study, 1997-1999: [United States] Part 2 Youth Survey with a national sample of 534 adolescents. Chi-square tests for association examined the strength of the relationships between, school participation, religiosity, family/peer support, role model for gambling behavior, alcohol use, substance use, and criminal activity with gambling behavior. Logistic regression models were used to identify predictors of adolescent gambling behavior.
The findings revealed that gender, religiosity, role model for gambling behavior, alcohol use, substance use, and criminal activity are significant correlates of adolescent gambling behavior. The logistic regression models demonstrated that gender, role model for gambling behavior, and alcohol use were significant predictors of adolescent gambling behavior.
This research offers a first step in building knowledge and practice wisdom for understanding the continuum of gambling behaviors. Knowledge and understanding characteristics of adolescents who engage in gambling behaviors provides a foundation for greater exploration of psychosocial factors that are most associated with adolescent gambling behavior. This research contributes to social work practice by identifying psychosocial factors that significantly correlate and predict adolescent gambling behavior; thereby, increasing understanding of adolescent gambling behavior. Practice protocols can be developed to ask about gambling behaviors or to screen for gambling problems, if a client presents for treatment and displays any of the characteristics identified with gambling behavior in this research. This research also has implications for social work education. Given the increase of gambling opportunities, the impact of gambling and its influence on public health, and the increase of gambling among adolescents, gambling should be incorporated in social work curriculum, like other addictive behaviors.