The latest survey from the Iowa Department of Public Health shows the number of people who admit financial problems caused by gambling fell just a little to nine tenths of a percent. Frank Biagoli, the coordinator of Iowa’s Office of Gambling Treatment and Prevention, says the numbers haven’t change much in the last several years. He says the numbers have stayed around one percent for the people who have financial problems due to gambling, and one percent for those who have personal problems related to gambling. Gambling proponents say the low number of people who admit to problems shows that people are gambling responsibly. Biagoli admits the number is low. He says if you consider the people who serious problems and those approaching serious problems, it amounts to about 60-thousand people, which he admits is low. But, he says there’s more to the story than the people who admit to the problem. He says the problem can be devastating for the people who have a problem, leading to things such as bankruptcy and divorce, which he says has an impact on the entire community. Biagioli says just over 30-percent of the people in the survey admitted to gambling, which he says may not be a true indicator of the gamblers out there. He says they numbers may be low because of the way people interpret the question about whether they’ve gambled in the last 12 months. He says other surveys show that up to 80 percent of Americans gamble. Biagioli says they get about 15-hundred calls to the hotline phone that helps people deal with gambling trouble. He says the 15-hundred calls are just the tip of the iceberg. And he says not all the calls come directly from gamblers, they also come from concerned friends and employers who recognize a problem and are seeking help.
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