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Poker, Sports Betting, and Less Popular Alternatives: Status, Friendship Networks, and Male Adolescent Gambling



The authors argue that the recent increase in poker play among adolescent males in the United States was primarily attributable to high-status male youth who are more able to organize informal gambling games (e.g., poker and sports betting) than are low-status male youth who are left to gamble on formal games (e.g., lotteries and slot machines). Using participation in sports as a proxy for status, the authors test the prediction that male athletes were more likely to engage in informal gambling and were largely responsible for the recent and much-discussed poker craze among adolescents. These and related predictions are supported using data from consecutive crosssectional surveys of American youth from 2002 to 2008. Despite their social status, however, male youth engaging in informal gambling are more at risk for gambling problems than are those engaging in formal gambling. The authors discuss the dilemmas that their findings present for the prevention of problem gambling in young people.