Recent Studies Show More Casinos Does Not Equal More Gambling Addiction
In a recent study published in the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, Donald Black, a psychiatry professor says:
“It seems society reaches a saturation point beyond which additional gambling opportunities won’t capture more people. And that applies to problem gamblers, too. They all seem to adjust to it.”
The study looked at groups of people asked the same set of questions in surveys done during three different time periods; 1989, 1995 and 2006 – ’08. The questions are from a test known as SOGS, which stands for South Oaks Gambling Screen, and scores 0 – 5, 5 being addicted to gambling.
Casinos were legalized in Iowa (the state where the study took place) in 1991 (riverboats since 1989), and the number of casinos has grown substantially since 1995, the year of the second survey. Iowa currently has 21 casinos, 18 of which are licensed by the state and three of which are run by Indian tribes on tribal lands.
The study actually showed that the number of people who had never gambled went up to 83%, a rise of 11% points over the 1995 survey which showed just 72% of the population had never gambled. Black says the results should translate to other states.
The study was in part done to research a hypothesis by Howard Schaffeer, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School who had studied the effects of gambling in casino heavy Nevada but found that the states percentage of problem gamblers was about the same as other states. He theorized that at a certain point gambling facilities reach enough of a saturation point that the available people who will gamble will have been reached.
This latest study seems to verify that theory, and as more casinos open up in more and more states it also explains a fairly recent phenomenon in the gaming industry.
Casinos have been concentrating on giving people something other than gambling to spend their money on; this has led to the idea of a resort style venue that has the gaming area as well as retail stores, restaurants and entertainment venues. And, as revenues in the gambling sections of these new casinos have dropped, the revenue from the other aspects of the venue has been increasing.
The percentage of people who have never gambled grew, but the percentage of problem gamblers, the same study found, fell slightly. This may be due in some part to a percentage of casino earnings being directed towards anti-gambling messages, but that would be very hard to actually quantify.
Although the first wave of casinos caused a slight uptick in ‘problem gamblers’, increased exposure saw a drop from 2% in 1995 to 1.4% in the most recent study. People who occasionally gambled went down as well, from 23% in the 1995 survey to 14% in the latest survey.
There is no question this study will foster new discussions even as laws have been opening up in more and more states. The video games have slowly been replaced by table games across the country, and the number of casinos allowed has gone up in most states. This study suggests that once casinos have opened in a state, more of them will not produce more gamblers.
They do produce more dollars, though, in part due to the reasons discussed above. The casinos are now going out of their way to offer more than one revenue stream to the communities they are in. The states also see a boom. Iowa collected $116 million from casino levies last fiscal year.