Results of a survey released last week indicate that nearly 85 percent of Indiana adults said they took part in at least one gambling activity over the past year. That’s according to researchers at Indiana University who conducted the first-ever study regarding gambling behaviors in the state.
The study was funded by the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling, using a random sampling of Indiana adults age 18 and older. In addition to finding out how Hoosiers gambled, the survey included three assessments to determine the prevalence of problem gambling behaviors.
Mary Lay, an IU research associate and the program manager for Prevention Insights’ Indiana Problem Gambling Awareness Program, said in a statement that the survey will be used to help determine priorities for treatment and awareness across the state.
“Gambling has been legal in Indiana for over 30 years, and this survey is the first look at Indiana adults’ behaviors around gambling,” she said in a statement. “Indiana is one of a few states that support efforts to address problem-gambling treatment needs with support from a portion of the revenues produced by gambling activities in the state.”
Prevention Insights, a part of the IU School of Public Health, seeks to strengthen behavioral health systems nationwide and promote prevention, treatment, and recovery.
Lottery Most Popular for Indiana Gamblers
Of the 84.8 percent of Hoosiers who said they gambled last year, lotteries were by far the most popular activity. The survey found that 71.7 percent of respondents played a type of lottery game in the past year.
And even with COVID-19 still ongoing, nearly half of the adults surveyed, 46.2 percent, said they had visited a casino in the past year. However, the percentages varied greatly among age groups. While 49.6 percent of those ages 18-to-34 said they visited a casino at least one time, only 31.6 percent of those 55 and older did. Among those 35-to-54, it was 42 percent.
Some of the other more significant disparities found in the survey were those between male gamblers and females. For instance, nearly 30 percent of males took part in some type of sports betting activity, compared to just 12.7 percent of females. In addition, males were more inclined to be scored for at least some risk of a problem gambling disorder.
Based on the Pathological Gambling Diagnostic Form, a nine-item survey included in the study, 6.7 percent of male participants scored as having a gambling disorder. That’s compared to 1.9 percent of female respondents. On the NORC Diagnostic Screen for Gambling Problems, which includes 17 questions, 6.9 percent of men were rated as having a pathological gambling issue, compared to just 0.5 percent of women.
The survey also found that those identified with a gambling disorder reported, on average, more mentally unhealthy days in the past month than those found not to be at-risk
The full results of the survey can be found here. In an email to Casino.org, Lay said that the goal is for the survey to be conducted on a recurring basis to better understand and track behaviors. How often that would take place is uncertain as researchers are seeking funding for future studies.
Games of Skill, High-Risk Trading Also Considered
In addition to looking at the prevalence of traditional gambling, the survey also asked respondents about other forms. That includes high-risk trading of stocks or other investment vehicles and games of skill, such as pool, bowling, or video games.
For a problem gambler any game that they risk something on the outcome which is unknown is gambling,” Lay told Casino.org on Friday. “Interestingly, golf is a common game for bets. Also, gambling is defined as risking something of value on an unknown outcome. It is not that these are red flags to future, it’s that everyone who is addicted to gambling or substances start somewhere.”
The survey comes two years after Indiana lawmakers passed an expanded gambling bill that will lead to the opening of a casino in Terre Haute and ushered in legal sports betting across the state.
Lawmakers are also considering a further expansion, which could include the introduction of online real-money casino apps and legalizing video gaming terminals in a variety of establishments.
Lay said that increased access is a risk factor for any addiction and that lawmakers should consider that if they pursue new forms of gambling.
“Any additional options should include money – tax on revenue from games – going directly to the treatment, prevention and awareness of the potential risks associated with gambling,” she told Casino.org. “Gambling can be a fun recreational activity for most but for those who develop problems it is key they are aware of the warning signs and where to go for help.”
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