Facts on Problem Gambling

FACTS AND RESOURCES ON PROBLEM GAMBLING

WHAT IS PROBLEM GAMBLING AWARENESS MONTH?
Problem gambling awareness month is a nationwide effort to raise awareness about problem gambling. It is sponsored annually by the National Council on Problem Gambling and in Minnesota by the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance (through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services), Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, Minnesota State Lottery and Project Turnabout.

WHAT IS PROBLEM GAMBLING?
Problem gambling, also known as gambling addiction or compulsive gambling, is defined as the urge to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop.

HOW MANY MINNESOTANS ARE AT RISK FOR PROBLEM GAMBLING?
It’s estimated that approximately 160,000 to 214,000 Minnesotans struggle with this addictive disorder, which can destroy lives, threaten family relationships and empty retirement savings.

WHO IS AT RISK FOR DEVELOPING A GAMBLING ADDICTION?
Gambling problems can develop in anyone regardless of age, race, gender or socio-economic status. However, several groups of Minnesotans are at particular risk:

Those in Recovery
There is a connection between various addictions, including substance and alcohol addiction. Therefore, those recovering from addiction are at increased risk for developing gambling addiction.

Older Adults
Seniors are one of the fastest-growing groups of gamblers. They are vulnerable for a number of reasons, including:

  • Coping with changes and losses
  • Retirement savings at risk
  • Less willing to seek assistance
  • Easy access to gambling
  • Potential to have cognitive impairment

More information here.

Military Personnel and Veterans
Statistics suggest that veterans experience a greater incidence of gambling problems given a variety of factors.

  • Study in American Journal on Addictions suggests prevalence rates of gambling problems among vets receiving VA care are two to four times higher than the general population.
  • The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that 56,000 active duty service members have serious or moderate gambling disorders.
  • 17 percent of military veterans entering treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder met formal problem gambling criteria (Biddle et al., 2005)

Youth and College Students
Children and teenagers aren’t prepared to balance emotion and logic to make healthy choices. If a teenager’s problem gambling isn’t halted early, it can have devastating consequences that affect the rest of their lives.

  • 1 percent of U.S. residents ages 14-21 struggle with problem gambling. Another 6.5 percent are at-risk (knowtheodds.org)
  • A Texas study among adolescent criminal offenders found that 12% of males and 8% of females already had gambling problems (Wager, Vol. 7, #1)


WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF PROBLEM GAMBLING?
Some signs of problem gambling include:

  • Increased frequency of gambling activity
  • Increased amount of money gambled
  • Gambling for longer periods of time than originally planned
  • Bragging about wins, but not talking about losses
  • Pressuring others for money as financial problems arise
  • Lying about how money is spent
  • Escaping to other excesses (alcohol, drugs, sleep, etc.)
  • Denying there is a problem

More information can be found here.

GAMBLING AND SPENDING

  • Data show that 73% of Minnesotans indicate they have gambled in the past year (Source: MN State Lottery / St. Cloud State University 2015)
  • 48 states and a majority of tribes have some form of legalized gambling (Hawaii and Utah are the exceptions)
  • The estimated lifetime costs of pathological and problem gamblers in the U.S. is up to $53.8 billion. (Grinsols, E. L., Gambling in American: Costs and Benefits, 2004)
  • $5 billion is the estimated annual cost of pathological and problem gamblers in the U.S. (National Opinion Research Center, Gambling Impact and Behavior Study)
  • $20 billion is the annual revenue generated by lotteries for state governments (wsj.com)
  • 85% of American adults are said to have gambled at least once in their lifetime – with 80% of them having done so in the last year (gambling.net, Gambling by Country)
  • 90% of pathological gamblers gambled with their paychecks or family savings (National Opinion Research Center, Gambling Impact and Behavior Study)
  • One in five of those affected by problem gambling will attempt suicide – twice the rate of other disorders (GetGamblingHelp.com)
  • The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) estimates that although approximately 5 million Americans meet the criteria for compulsive gambling, only around 8 percent of these individuals will ever seek help for their problem.

 

RESOURCES FOR HELP AND TREATMENT IN MINNESOTA

*Treatment is available at no cost for Minnesotans with gambling problems.