A new survey finds a slight drop in the number of Iowans who reported gambling and also in those who experienced some symptoms of problem gambling.
The survey by the Iowa Department of Public Health and the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research shows about 294,000 adult Iowans fell into the problem gambling area — which is three percent less than the 2013 survey.
The program manager of the Iowa Gambling Treatment Program, Eric Pruess, says the numbers really show little movement.
“The differences or the drop or what we are seeing in the variances are not necessarily statistically significant as a researcher looking at it,” Pruess says. “Although from the average Iowan who looks at the data goes ‘it was 300-thousand and now it’s 294,000 that’s a smaller number.’ But again, these are weighted samples.”
Overall 1.6 million Iowans said they had gambled in the last year, compared to 1.8 in the 2013 survey. Pruess focuses on the 13 percent who said they had a problem with gambling.
“It’s encouraging to see that fewer people are having problems related to their gambling — so that would hopefully indicate that we are getting messages out about responsible gaming. so it doesn’t turn into a gambling disorder where it can really cause significant problems,” Pruess says.
He says any move in problem gambling that showed a statistically significant move up would raise concern.
“And that’s why we do the survey, is that we are always wanting to see what’s going on with adult Iowans and gambling within the state of Iowa to help identify and help us target our efforts at the state level, and target services at an issues and trends that we might be seeing from the data,” Pruess says.
This survey examined how fantasy sports fits into the whole state gambling mix from casinos to card games.
“And what we have found — and fantasy sports lines up just like the others — is that individuals involved in one or more gambling activities have higher risk patterns for developing a gambling disorder,” Preuss explains.
While fewer than one in 10 adult Iowans reported taking part in fantasy sports in the past 12 months, the survey shows those who did (91 percent) were engaged in another type of gambling activity as well, such as casino gambling, slot machines or scratch tickets. Pruess says fantasy sports have continued to grow in popularity and there have been ongoing discussions in the legislature about legalizing them.
“And we really wanted to get a sense of what’s going on with fantasy sports in the state of Iowa,” Pruess says. He says fantasy sports betting is not currently legal in Iowa, so they look at the fantasy sports that are legal here.
The survey finds the most common gambling activities in the state were lottery (38%) and raffle tickets (37%) followed by scratch tickets and pull tabs (32%), slot machines (24%), and card games with friends or others (not at casinos) (14%). If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-BETS OFF or go to www.1800BETSOFF.org.