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DHS news release

March 7, 2007


Contact: Ann Snyder, 503-945-5922

Program contact: Jeff Marotta, 503-945-9709

New data show correlation between teen gambling, other risk behaviors 

New correlations from the 2006 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey indicate eighth- and 11th-grade students who gamble also are more likely to be involved in other risky behaviors.


“The data are startling, showing students who gamble are more likely to have had sexual intercourse, consumed alcohol, carried a handgun, been in a fight or attacked someone with an intent to hurt them seriously,” said Jeff Marotta, problem gambling services manager in the Oregon Department of Human Services.


Marotta said the data bolster plans to produce a seven-minute video, expected to be available in April, that will be distributed free to schools, boys and girls clubs, faith organizations, and other sites to encourage youth discussions of problem gambling. The video will feature Oregon middle school students talking about gambling, and will be accompanied by activity and discussion guides.


“The video will focus discussion that will help teenagers understand how to avoid getting into trouble with gambling,” Marotta said.


These were among the correlations in the survey data:

  • Sexual intercourse: Eighth-grade gamblers were nearly twice as likely to have had sex as non-gamblers. The difference for 11th-grade gamblers was approximately 25 percent.
  • Handguns: Gamblers at both grade levels were three times as likely to have carried a handgun as non-gamblers.
  • Physical fights: Eighth-grade gamblers were more than three times as likely to have been in a fight during the prior 12 months, while 11th-graders were more than twice as likely to have been in fights.
  • Attacks: Gamblers at both grade levels were nearly three times as likely as non-gamblers to have attacked someone during the prior 12 months with an intent to seriously hurt the individual.
  • Alcohol: Eighth-grader gamblers were nearly twice as likely to have consumed alcohol and 11th-graders about a third more likely than non-gamblers.

“This isn’t a cause-and-effect relationship,” Marotta said. “Gambling doesn’t cause these other behaviors. But gambling should be a signal to parents that they ought to be talking to teens about risky behaviors including gambling.


Parents and schools both warn about such things as tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and too often gambling is viewed as a healthy alternative. That isn’t necessarily so.”


In focus groups conducted by Multnomah County and the private nonprofit Oregon Partnership, Marotta noted, a majority of participating teens said they gamble. In contrast, parents, when asked what their kids do for fun, didn’t even mention gambling until they were prompted. Teens said the winner of a weekend poker tournament could take home winnings of as much as $500.


The DHS problem gambling services program, which also offers free treatment, is financed by 1 percent of Oregon Lottery revenues and is among DHS services to prevent and treat addictions. People interested in more information about problem gambling treatment may call toll free 1-877-2-STOP-NOW (1-877-278-6766).