Buffalo Study Shows Increased Betting Opportunities Have Not Increased Problem Gambling
A recent study by the University at Buffalo indicates that a smaller percentage of people are gambling today than they were 10 years ago. Since 2000, the number of gambling opportunities has increased significantly, so the study was designed to gauge how the proliferation of gaming opportunities has affected player conduct in the past 14 years.
Researchers say they were surprised the results. According to John W. Welte, a senior researcher with the UB Research Institute on Addictions, the team expected to find that the number of people had increased, given the many opportunities to play poker, enjoy casino games, or buy lottery tickets.
The thesis, according to Welte, was to see what effect the greater “public visibility and availability of gambling” would be “accompanied by an increase in gambling behavior and problems.”
U.S. Residents Gambling Less Often
Welte says, “Our results show it is clear that U.S. residents are gambling less often.” The UB Research Team, including Grace M. Barnes, Marie-Ceile O. Tidwell, Joseph H. Hoffman, and William F. Wieczorek, found that people are spending less time in the casinos these days than they did only a few years ago.
Reasons for the Decline
Several possible reasons exist for the relative decline in gambling activities. One obvious factor is the continued softness of the U.S. economy. While the economy has recovered somewhat from the Global Recession, the home budgets of average Americans is still not what it was in 2000. Middle class Americans have less disposable income, so they spend less at the casinos.
Another factor is more societal. When casinos first began to appear across the nation, they were new and people were somewhat naive about their chances. Many of the people in the study have had experiences in the land-based casinos. They’ve played the lottery. More people have lost than have won. Some gamblers are going to throttle their gaming habits. Others are going to give up the hobby altogether.
It’s normal and healthy for a person to have a negative experience, then avoid that negative experience in the future. While some people allow one big win at the casino to keep them coming back for years, many have figured out that gambling is, pardon the pun, a bad bet.
AGA Spokesman Gives Explanation
Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., American Gaming Association past-president and CEO, says the younger demographic also has something to do with changing trends. Fahrenkopt, who often focuses on youth gambling, wrote in the forward of the 2013 AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment, “Young adult casino visitors…are more likely to return to a casino in the next 12 months than the general visitor population, but (they) say they will return less often,
Gambling by young adults is down significantly. In all age groups, the frequency of gambling is down, while the past-year gambling is also down significantly. That doesn’t mean the volume gamblers are giving up the hobby, while the study also found no signficant increase or decrease in problem gambling.
Problem Gambling Trends
The problem gambling information may be the most revealing. Despite having significantly more opportunities to gamble, problem or compulsive gambling has not increased over the years. That belies the often-spoken complaint when new casinos are opened, that it will increase gambling addiction in the population. That does not appear to be the case.
Overall, problem gambling increased for men, while it decreased for women. Also, as people’s socioeconomic status goes up, the incidences of problem gambling decreased.
High Rollers and Online Gamblers
On the other hand, for those who do gamble a lot, the size of their bankroll has increased. The study revealed that a new class of high rollers exists. Also, the study found that online gambling is the only form of betting which is on a steady increase. The availability of mobile gaming devices no doubt has helped that trend.
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