February 10, 2016

Report says 91% of Iowans participate in some form of gambling

A report on gambling shows 91% of Iowans admit to participating in some form of gambling from church raffles to black jack. That compares to 80% who admitted to gambling in the last survey in 1990. The manager of the Public Health Department’s Office of Gambling Treatment and Prevention, Mark Vander Linden, says Iowa’s rate is a little higher than the national average, which is 80%.

He says it’s an indication of “the wide acceptance of gambling as part of the culture in Iowa.” Vander Linden says he also wants to look deeper into the report to see how many Iowans are gambling when they shouldn’t, or gambling where they are at risk, or are problem gamblers.

Vander Linden says the study found the number of pathological gamblers at one percent. Vander Linden says that number has stayed about the same when compared to the last study in Iowa and is also about the same amount you see in most large national studies. Vander Linden says he is concerned by the number of people who are not problem gamblers, but show some of the signs that could lead to a problem.

“They haven’t met that threshold for pathological gambling, but they do have some type of symptom that would indicate that they are at risk,” Vander Linden explains. He says those risk signs are things like feeling that they are gambling more than they had wanted to or that they regret the gambling experiences they have had.

Vander Linden says 13.1% of the people in the survey fall into that category. The study was conducted by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research. Vander Linden says the types of preferred gambling varies between men and women.

He says men prefer table games at casinos, followed by card games not at casinos and then lotteries. For women, slot machines were the favorite, followed by lottery scratch tickets and pull tabs, and then other lottery number games. Overall he says the favorite gambling choice for Iowans was slot machines at 19%, followed by lottery games at 12%.

You can see the complete gambling report at the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website at: www.idph.state.ia.us. You can get help with problem gambling by calling 1-800-BETS-OFF or at: www.1800betsoff.org.

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