A new gambling study released by the Iowa Department of Public Health estimates more than 1.7 million adult Iowans gambled during the past 12 months.
Iowa Gambling Treatment program manager Eric Preuss says that’s up just a bit compared to the last survey three years ago.
“It was about 68 percent in 2015 — it jumped a little bit to 73.8% — but is it very comparable to where it was in 2013,” Preuss says.
Preuss says there is a common link between the increase in the number of people gambling. “When we started looking back at the data, well the thing that happened in 2013 which also happened in 2018 — we had those huge lottery jackpots for both Powerball and MegaMillions — which really increased the number of Iowans who were participating in the lottery,” Preuss says.
Preuss says the number of people in the survey who said they were experiencing some symptoms of problem gambling was 13-point-six percent, a one percent increase compared to the 2015 survey. He says those who experienced those feelings also knew where to turn. “There’s great name recognition and understanding about what one-800-BETTS-Off is in the state of Iowa,” Preuss says. “That it is a resource that Iowans can you use to access information and assistance and even referral to treatment, if that is appropriate at the time. about what might be going on with their gambling, or a loved one’s gambling for that mattter,”Preuss says.
Although less than one percent of Iowans are classified as problem or pathological gamblers, Preuss says more than one in five adults say they have been impacted by the gambling behavior of a family member, friend, or someone else they know. He says this survey helps keep them on top of the issue, especially with the advent of legalized sports betting. “We now have baseline data and whether it’s two years form now or three years when we do this again and we do a look back, we’ll get to see what the impact has been of that legislation,” according to Preuss. “And so we’ll be monitoring that as best we can will adjust our services and how we target services to help mitigate any harm that might come from sports wagering in the state of Iowa.”
Preuss says symptoms of problem gambling include: being preoccupied with gambling, and/or restless or irritable when not gambling; secretive about gambling habits, and defensive when confronted; increasing bet amounts when gambling in order to achieve the desired excitement; trying unsuccessfully to control, cut back or stop gambling; gambling to escape problems; chasing losses with more gambling; committing crimes to finance gambling; jeopardizing or losing relationships, jobs, education or career opportunities because gambling; relying on others to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem can find out how to get help by visiting Your Life Iowa at: yourlifeiowa.org/gambling