Approximately 4% of adults in both Indiana and Illinois have gambling disorders that may prevent them from restraining their wagering even when it has a negative effect on their lives, according to new studies recently completed in each state.
The studies, conducted by Prevention Insights, part of the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, and Health Resources in Action, on behalf of the Illinois Department of Human Services, are the first comprehensive, statewide assessments of problem gambling since legal gambling became widely available in Indiana and Illinois about three decades ago.
While the numbers are not directly comparable due to measurement differences, the Indiana study found men ages 18 to 34 and men over 55 with incomes less than $100,000 per year were among the most likely to have a gambling problem.
In Illinois, the Hispanic share of problem gamblers (34%) was roughly double their share of the state’s population (17%). Illinoisans with gambling problems reported spending about $16,750 a year on gambling, according to the study.
People are also reading…
“We hope that the findings of this assessment will provide much needed information for people working on prevention and treatment of problem gambling in Illinois, which will help them make data-informed decisions on how best to assist individuals on their road to recovery,” said Dr. Hannah Carliner, of Health Resources in Action.
“The broad scope of this assessment also enables it to be used as a baseline measure for future assessments to track changes over time regarding prevalence of gambling and problem gambling, and availability and use of services.”
Both states offer hotlines to connect people who believe they have a gambling problem to local resources that can help address it.
Illinoisans can access recovery options by calling 1-800-GAMBLER, texting “ILGamb” to 53342, or visiting the WeKnowTheFeeling.org website.
Hoosiers should call 1-800-9WITHIT for assistance with problem gambling.
“Gambling addiction is often seen as a chosen behavior and not a disease, such as alcoholism. Further education of the risks of gambling for more than entertainment or recreation can improve the lives of many Hoosiers,” said Mary Lay, program manager of Prevention Insights’ Indiana Problem Gambling Awareness Program.
The studies found gambling is very popular in both states and nearly all gamblers successfully limit their wagering to only money they can afford to lose.
In Indiana, 84% of Hoosiers reported participating in at least one gambling activity in the past year, while 68.4% of Illinoisans said the same — likely lower than usual, especially in Illinois, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lottery was the most popular form of gambling with 72% of Hoosiers and 54% of Illinoisans saying they purchased a scratch-off or draw game lottery ticket in the past year.
The study found gambling at casinos was the second-most popular form of wagering in Indiana with 40% of adults saying they recently visited a casino.
In Illinois, however, gambling with friends was more common as 33% of study participants said they made informal bets on casual card games, personal skills or raffle tickets in the past year.
Just 15% of Illinoisans visited a casino to gamble and 14% played a slot machine at a bar or restaurant, according to the study.
Copies of the problem gambling studies for each state are available online at nwi.com.