A growing body of research has suggested that young people are becoming involved in gambling behavior in ever-increasing numbers, despite the fact that in most jurisdictions, gambling is illegal for anyone under 18 and that a significant percentage of those young gamblers are developing problems associated with their gambling. These problems include, at their most severe level, the development of pathological gambling.
A meta-estimate of adolescent gambling prevalence (Shaffer & Hall, 1994) was undertaken in an attempt to analyze the results of nine prevalence studies from five regions of the United States and Canada. This synthesis, which involved data from over 7700 young people between the ages of fifteen and twenty concluded that between 77.9% and 83% of them were gambling at a non-problem level, 9.9 to 14.2% were displaying signs of gambling problems in their gambling behavior, and 4.4 to 7.4% meet the diagnostic criteria for compulsive gambling or pathological gambling.
Given this kind of information, it becomes clear that the gambling behavior of adolescent children should be an area of concern for parents, educators and others concerned about young people. In response to this growing concern, in 1994 the North American Training Institute sought and was awarded a grant to develop a compulsive gambling prevention and education project focusing on middle school age children. This project has proven to be very useful with both its audience and with educators, parents and youth workers, and it is the goal of the North American Training Institute to provide assistance to other corporations and organizations, such as school districts, departments of education, departments of health, educators, school counselors, and policy makers, in the development of similar projects for their states and provinces.