The manager of the Iowa Gambling Treatment and Prevention Program says only a small percentage of Iowans who have a gambling disorder are getting the help they need.
Eric Preuss provided a report to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on the program’s progress in 2013. “About 678 Iowans received services for problem gambling and we had a little over 4,000 calls for assistance through our 1-800-BETS-OFF Helpline,” Preuss said.
The program’s 1-800-BETS-OFF website was launched three years ago and receives around 14,000 visits annually. Preuss said relatively few people, around 18,000 Iowans, are described as problem gamblers. “Although point-six percent of Iowans have a gambling disorder, approximately 13.1 percent of Iowans are at risk of developing a gambling disorder,” Preuss said.
In addition, a problem gambler’s activities can impact a lot of family members and friends. “Although the percentage of Iowans with a gambling disorder is low, our behaviors and attitudes studies have indicated that more than one in five adult Iowans say they’ve been negatively affected by gambling behavior by someone that they know,” Preuss said.
This week is designated as National Problem Gambling Awareness Week. An American Gaming Association report estimates $2.1 billion is spent on illegal gambling in the U.S. in the month of March, when many people are betting on the outcome of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.