Eric Preuss delivered a presentation Thursday before the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission meeting in Altoona. “Although it’s estimated that 1.2 percent, or about 29,000, adult Iowans have a gambling disorder, it’s also estimated that 12.6 percent, or almost 295,000, are classified as at risk for developing a gambling disorder,” Preuss said.
Governor Branstad is due to sign a proclamation today recognizing March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Iowa.
Preuss notes the percentage of Iowans with a gambling disorder is low, but their behavior has a wide reaching impact. “Almost 1 out of 7 adult Iowans, that’s 15-percent, have said they have been negatively affected by the gambling behavior of someone they know,” Preuss said.
The Iowa Gambling Treatment Program operates the 1-800-BETS-OFF hotline. There were over 6,300 calls placed to the hotline in fiscal year 2015 — the most calls since 2009.
More than 600 Iowans a year enter an Iowa Gambling Treatment program. “The primary wagering method for folks who come into services is slots, with table games at number two, and lottery games is number three at 15-percent,” Preuss said.
March was selected as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month because of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The FBI estimates that more than $2.5 billion is wagered illegally each year on “March Madness.”