Religion and Social Trends

Gambling a Common Activity for Americans

Growth in casino gambling

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Each March, the NCAA men's basketball tournament captures the attention of sports fans around the country. One outgrowth of the widespread interest in the tournament has been the ubiquitous office betting pool, as workers try to win money by testing their luck and knowledge against the often-unpredictable outcomes of NCAA tournament games. Gallup data show that relatively few Americans admit to participating in such office pools, but gambling in a variety of forms is widespread in the United States. Two in three Americans say they have participated in some form of gambling activity in the last 12 months, with state lotteries being the most common. While most forms of gambling appear to be less common than 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of Americans who say they visit casinos. Men are significantly more likely than women to gamble.

Gambling Activity in the United States

The annual Gallup Lifestyle Poll, conducted Dec. 11-14, 2003, asked Americans if they participated in each of 11 forms of gambling in the last year. By far, the most common form of gambling in the United States is state lotteries. About half of Americans, 49%, say they have bought a lottery ticket in the past 12 months. Three in 10 Americans say they have visited a casino in the past 12 months, making it the second-most common form of gambling. Fourteen percent of Americans say they have played a video poker machine, 5% have played bingo for money, and 1% have gambled on the Internet.

Fifteen percent of Americans say they have participated in an office pool connected with a sporting event such as the NCAA Tournament, Super Bowl, or World Series. Americans are less likely to say they placed bets on professional (10%) or college (6%) sports events, horse races (4%), or boxing matches (2%). Participation in office gambling pools is higher among Americans who are employed full-time (23%) than among the general public.

Participation in Forms of Gambling
Over the Past 12 Months

% “Yes”
Dec. 11-14, 2003

Gallup data suggest Americans are less likely to participate in most forms of gambling than they were in 1989, when most of these items were first asked. The primary exception is visiting casinos, which has increased from 20% in 1989 to 30% today. Since 1989, casinos have been built in several local communities as a way to raise revenue. The incidence of Americans who have played video poker has also increased, but only slightly, from 11% in 1992 to 14% today (it rose as high as 20% in 1999). The largest decline has come in betting on professional sports events, which has declined from 22% to 10% today.

 

Percentage of Americans Participating in Various Forms of Gambling

1989 Apr 4-9

2003 Dec 11-14

Change

%

%

(in percentage points)

Visited casino

20

30

+10

Played video poker

11‡

14

+3

Bet on horse race

9†

4

-5

Bought state lottery ticket

54

49

-5

Bet on boxing match

8

2

-6

Participated in office pool

22‡

15

-7

Played bingo for money

13

5

-8

Bet on college sports

14

6

-8

Bet on pro sports

22

10

-12

†Feb 15-18, 1990

‡Nov 20-22, 1992



Prevalence of Gambling in the United States

By taking into account the public's answers to the 11 different gambling activities, Gallup estimates that 66% of Americans gambled in at least one of these ways in the past 12 months. In the 1989 survey, 70% had done so.

The current data show that men (75%) are much more likely than women (57%) to say they have gambled in the last 12 months. There are also considerable differences by frequency of church attendance. Weekly churchgoers are much less likely to have gambled (52%) than are those who attend nearly weekly or monthly (69%) or those who seldom or never attend religious services (74%). Contrary to what some might expect, those living in lower income households are actually less likely to have participated in any form of gambling than are those living in higher income households.

 

Percentage of Americans Gambling in Last 12 Months
by Demographic Subgroup

Gender

Men

75%

Women

57%

Age

18-29

63%

30-49

68%

50-64

69%

65 and older

61%

Race

White

65%

Nonwhite

69%

Region

East

65%

Midwest

72%

South

63%

West

66%

Community

Urban

69%

Suburban

67%

Rural

57%

Education

High school or less

66%

Some college

67%

Four-year college grad

71%

Post-graduate

58%

Income

Less than $30,000

58%

$30,000-less than $50,000

66%

$50,000-less than $75,000

73%

$75,000 and above

70%

Church Attendance

Weekly

52%

Nearly weekly/monthly

69%

Seldom/Never

74%

Party Identification

Democrat

68%

Independent

69%

Republican

63%

Ideology

Liberal

65%

Moderate

70%

Conservative

63%



Gambling Problems

Despite the fact that gambling is widespread in the United States, most Americans do not view it as a problem for themselves. Only 6% say they sometimes gamble more than they should. This percentage is consistent across demographic subgroups. Among those who have participated in one or more of the specific gambling activities tested in the poll, 8% say they gamble more than they should.

Similarly, just 6% of Americans say gambling has been a source of problems for their families. Again, these do not differ appreciably by demographic subgroups, with the possible exception of age. Twelve percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say gambling has been a problem for someone in their family, compared with just 4% of those aged 50 and older.

To put these numbers in some context, 24% of Americans said they sometimes drank more alcoholic beverages than they should, and 31% of Americans said alcohol had been a source of problems for their families, according to a July 2003 Gallup Poll.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,011 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 11-14, 2003. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95%confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

28. Please tell me whether or not you have done any of the following things in the past 12 months. First, how about [ITEMS READ IN ORDER]?

A. Played bingo for money

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

5

95

--

1999 Apr 30-May 23

11

89

--

1996 Jun 27-30

9

91

--

1992 Nov 20-22

9

91

--

1989 Apr 4-9

13

87

--

1963 Jan 11-16 ^ †

16

84

--

1950 May 4-9 ^

11

89

--

^

WORDING: Play bingo

WORDING: During the past 12 months, did you, yourself, happen to do any of these?



B. Visited a casino

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

30

70

*

1996 Jun 27-30

27

73

*

1992 Nov 20-22

21

79

--

1989 Apr 4-9

20

80

--



C. Bet on a horse race

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

4

96

*

1996 Jun 27-30

6

94

*

1992 Nov 20-22

12

88

--

1990 Feb 15-18

9

91

*



D. Bought a state lottery ticket

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

49

51

*

1999 Apr 30-May 23

57

43

--

1996 Jun 27-30

57

43

--

1992 Nov 20-22

56

44

--

1989 Apr 4-9

54

46

--



E. Bet on a professional sports event such as baseball, basketball, or football

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

10

90

*

1999 Apr 30-May 23

13

87

--

1996 Jun 27-30

10

90

--

1992 Nov 20-22

12

88

--

1990 Feb 15-18

21

79

--

1989 Apr 4-9

22

78

--



F. Bet on a college sports event such as basketball or football

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

6

94

*

1999 Apr 30-May 23

9

91

--

1996 Jun 27-30

7

93

--

1992 Nov 20-22

6

94

--

1990 Feb 15-18

11

89

--

1989 Apr 4-9

14

86

--



G. Bet on a boxing match

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

2

98

*

1996 Jun 27-30

3

97

*

1992 Nov 20-22

6

94

--

1990 Feb 15-18

5

95

--

1989 Apr 4-9

8

92

--



H. Participated in an office pool on the World Series, Superbowl or other game

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

15

85

*

1999 Apr 30-May 23

25

75

--

1996 Jun 27-30

23

77

--

1992 Nov 20-22

22

78

--



I. Gambled for money on the Internet

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

1

99

*

1999 Apr 30-May 23

*

100

--

1996 Jun 27-30

1

99

--



J. Played a video poker machine

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

14

86

*

1999 Apr 30-May 23

20

80

--

1996 Jun 27-30

17

83

--

1992 Nov 20-221

11

89

--



K. Done any other kind of gambling not mentioned here

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

13

87

*

1996 Jun 27-30

10

90

*

* Less than 0.5%



28-1. Have you ever participated in any form of LEGAL gambling?

 

Yes

No

No opinion

2003 Dec 11-14

46%

54

*

* Less than 0.5%



30. Do you sometimes gamble more than you think you should?

 

Yes

No

No opinion

2003 Dec 11-14

6%

94

*

* Less than 0.5%



Long-Term Trend

BASED ON 499 ADULTS WHO HAVE PARTICIPATED IN LEGAL GAMBLING

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

10

90

--

1999 Apr 30-May 23

11

88

1

1996 Jun 27-30

7

93

*

1992 Nov 20-22

9

91

--

1989 Apr 4-9

10

90

--

* Less than 0.5%



31. Has gambling ever been a source of problems within your family?

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

6

94

*

1999 Apr 30-May 23

9

91

*

1996 Jun 27-30

5

95

*

1992 Nov 20-22

5

94

1

1989 Apr 4-9

4

96

*

* Less than 0.5%



Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/11098/Gambling-Common-Activity-Americans.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030