A casino within ten miles of home has a significant effect on problem gambling and is associated with a 90 percent increase in the odds of being a pathological or problem gambler, said John W. Welte, Ph.D., principal investigator on the study from the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA).
The likely reason for the increase, he added, is that the availability of an attractive gambling opportunity can lead to gambling pathology in some people who otherwise would not develop it. The study involved a national telephone survey of 2,631 U.S. adults. While geographic location nearly doubled the risk, Welte stressed the importance of placing the study results in perspective.
According to Welte, "Gambling behaviour and problem gambling behaviours are multi-faceted. Social and environmental influences on gambling behaviour and pathology are interesting in themselves. They have a special relevance to public policy debates. Because localities can control the location and density of gambling opportunities, such as casinos or lottery outlets, policy makers have some influence over the rates of problem gambling in our society."
"We know that this is not simply an effect of poverty at the individual level," explained Welte, a senior scientist at RIA and a research associate professor in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions. "Acceptance of gambling by family and friends, unrealistic expectations from gambling combined with a financial desperation, might be the explanation."
Past-year gambling was more common in states with two or more forms of legal gambling, and the average number of times gambled per year also was higher in those states with more forms of legal gambling. In fact, the odds of gambling for study respondents during the past year increased by 17 percent for every additional form of legal gambling in their state.
MEDICA.de; Source: University at Buffalo