Religion and Gambling Among Young Adults in the United States: Moral Communities and the Deterrence Hypothesis
Despite voluminous research examining religion as an integrative force and a mechanism of social control, relatively few studies have examined the association between religion and proscribed or morally ambiguous behaviors beyond crime and drug use. The present exploratory study examines the role of religion, at both the individual and county levels, in predicting self-reported gambling problems. Hierarchical linear models are employed to examine religion and self-reported gambling problems using the restricted use data of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. A negative association between religious attendance and problem gambling (at the individual level) is strongest when church adherents per capita is relatively high (measured at the county level). However, when the number of conservative Protestants per capita is relatively high, religious attendance (measured at the individual level) is associated with an increased risk of gambling problems. These countervailing findings are interpreted as supportive of the bonding and bridging capital thesis.