Sociocultural influences on gambling and alcohol use among Native Americans in the United States

Abstract

Gambling opportunities on and near Native American lands have increased in recent decades; yet there is a lack of research examining the patterns of problem gambling and alcohol abuse among Native Americans in the US. Traditional Native American cultural identity may be a protective factor for problem gambling and alcohol abuse among Native Americans. Telephone interviews were conducted with 415 Native American adults aged 18 years and older across the US. The past-year prevalence of gambling among Native Americans is similar to the rate for non-Native Americans in the US (80 vs. 77 %). However, Native Americans have over twice the rate of problem gambling as the US sample (18 vs. 8 %). Although Native Americans have a lower rate of past-year alcohol use than the US population (47 vs. 68 %), they have a somewhat higher rate of alcohol abuse than their US counterparts (5.5 vs. 4.3 %). Logistic regression analysis, with problem gambling as the dependent variable, revealed that lower socioeconomic status is significantly associated with an increased odds of problem gambling for Native Americans. Counter to the hypothesis, the higher the score on the Native American orientation, the higher the odds of being a problem gambler. Further, living by the “White way of life” was associated with a decreased odds of being a problem gambler; and perceived gambling convenience was associated with an increased odds of being a problem gambler. None of the Native American factors was significant in predicting alcohol abuse. These findings highlight the need for further investigation into the influence of cultural factors on Native American gambling.

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