MASSACHUSETTS RESEARCHER PRESENTS PROBLEM GAMBLING STATS
Research mandated by gaming laws shows that an estimated 1.7 percent of state punters could be classified as problem gamblers.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission this week studied statistics from a problem gambling study mandated by 2011 state gambling laws and presented by UMass-Amherst professor Rachel Volberg.
Volberg revealed that 1.7 percent of the state’s adult population were considered problem gamblers and 7.5 percent were at-risk gamblers following a baseline study of the Massachusetts population, conducted from September 2013 to May 2014, before the state’s first slot parlour opened.
Additional research will be conducted when the two resort casinos permitted under the 2011 law have been completed and made operational.
Volberg said that the 2013-2014 study showed that, with no casinos operating in Massachusetts, 27.5 percent of the state’s population were non-gamblers and 63.4 percent were recreational gamblers who did not experience harm from it, although there were major differences in problem gambling rates regarding race, gender and level of education.
“Men are three times more likely to have a gambling problem than women; blacks are four times more likely to have a gambling problem than whites; and individuals with a high school diploma or less are twice as likely to have a gambling problem compared with individuals with a college degree,” she told members of the Commission.
The survey included asking for opinions on attitudes to gambling, and found that 57.5 percent of respondents believed some forms of gambling should be legal while others should not, and that 63.1 percent believed the current availability of gambling in Massachusetts was acceptable.
22 percent said not enough gambling was available in Massachusetts, while nearly 15 percent said it was too widely available.
Volberg said the study indicated that the state lottery was the most prevalent form of gambling with 59 percent of respondents playing lottery games, whilst 32 percent took part in raffles, 22 percent frequented a casino and 13 percent placed bets on sports events.
A total of 72 percent of respondents said they had gambled in the preceding year.
Only 2 percent said they gambled online.
The Commission is looking at options in the Massachusetts market following the legalization of online gambling in neighbouring states and the meteoric rise in popularity of daily fantasy sports.
State lottery officials are also trying to persuade the state government to give them permission to launch online lottery activity to boost sales.
Last month Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker created a special panel to study the full implications of the regulation of online gaming, fantasy sports gaming and daily fantasy sports