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What the Public Thinks
About Problem Gambling
(and Why It Matters)
Keith Whyte
National Council on Problem
Gambling
Don Feeney
Minnesota Lottery
What do we need to know?
• How does the public perceive addiction?
• Do they stigmatize addiction?
• Do they recognize gambling addiction?
• Do they understand the causes?
• Do they understand the solutions?
• Do they know where to go for help?
• Do they know preventative factors?
• What are they willing to do?
• What messages are credible and appealing?
Data Sources
• Ipsos Reid US Express Omnibus Survey
– + U.S adults
– Internet sample of 1000 US adults
– June 2009, September 2011, June 2012, May 2013, May 2014, May
2015
• Ipsos Reid Survey
– Telephone sample
– 1000 U.S. adults
– June, 2008
DOES THE PUBLIC UNDERSTAND
ADDICTION?
“…Compulsive gambling is an addiction just like
addiction to drugs or alcohol”
72%
13%
15%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Agree
Disagree
Neutral
Source: Ipsos 9/11 survey of 1009 US adults
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Frequently talks about gambling
Unexplained absences
Gambles on regular basis
Has financial troubles
Tries to win back losses
Gambles all the time
Neglects family
Lies about gambling
Borrows money
% of U.S. adults
Source: NCPG (2015)
What are the signs of a gambling problem?
2%
12%
15%
21%
36%
9%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
1% or less 2%-5% 6%-10% 11%-20% 21%-50% More than
50%
“What percentage of U.S. adults have a
gambling addiction?”
IS ADDICTION STIGMATIZED?
Would you feel ashamed or embarrassed if a family
member had …
18%
18%
12%
13%
4%
3%
26%
27%
27%
26%
11%
5%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
Sex addiction
Drug addiction
Gambling addiction
Alcohol addiction
Mental Illness
Used a wheelchair
% of adults answering 5, 6, or 7 on a
1 (not ashamed) to 7 (extremely ashamed) scale
7
5 or 6
Source: NCPG 2015
8%
39%
39%
45%
44%
15%
More likely to develop gambling addiction
55%
34%
29%
28%
45%
34%
12%
Men
Women
High School
Seniors
Poor
Minorities
People like me
Source: 2009 Voices of America Survey
5%
16%
26%
25%
8%
12%
43%
Men
Women
High School
Seniors
Poor
Minorities
People like me
Less likely to develop gambling addiction
Source: 2009 Voices of America Survey
DO THEY UNDERSTAND THE
CAUSES?
Would you say that addiction to gambling is primarily …?
49%
6%
31%
14%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
Personal or moral
weakness
Medical problem Both Something else
Source: NCPG 2015
38%
42%
51%
72%
73%
73%
81%
Person's genetics or other medical problem
Traumatic event in someone's life
Moral weakness
Parent or family member who gambles
Being around people who gamble a lot
Not having enough willpower
Having an addictive personality
Percent saying “very likely” or “somewhat likely”
Source: NCPG 2013
How likely is this to cause a gambling addiction?
“Controlling compulsive gambling is mostly
a matter of willpower”
21%
23%
55%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
Neutral
Disagree
Agree
Source: NCPG 2012
12%
29%
1%
4%
54%
0% 20% 40% 60%
No one
All 3
Government
Gambling venue
Individual
Source: 6/09 Ipsos Voice of Amercia Survey
Who is to blame when someone develops a
gambling addiction?
34%
53%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
The government should do more to
help people with gambling addiction
The gambling industry should do more
to help people with gambling addiction
Percent agreeing
Source: NCPG 2015
DO THEY UNDERSTAND THE SOLUTIONS?
How successful is this as a solution to a
gambling addiction?
32%
43%
44%
46%
55%
68%
75%
79%
79%
81%
Medication
Talking to a financial counselor
Education about gambling, such as odds and…
Counseling with a religious leader
Limiting their access to money
Abstinence from gambling
Treatment by a trained professional
Support from family
Counseling with someone in recovery
Participation in Gambler's Anonymous
Percent saying “very successful” or “somewhat successful”
Source: Ipsos US Express Omnibus, May 2013
“…The majority of people who receive treatment for
compulsive gambling achieve life-long recovery”
40%
29%
31%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
Neutral
Disagree
Agree
Source: NCPG 2012
“When you hear the word ‘recovery,’ as in ‘this person is in recovery
from a gambling addiction,’ what does it mean to you?”
19%
23%
54%
4%
No longer gambles
Has gambling under control
Trying to stop
Don't know
Source: NCPG 2012
DO THEY KNOW WHAT TO DO?
“If a friend or family member approached me with a gambling
problem, I am confident I would know where to get them help”
37%
43%
20%
Agree
Disagree
Neutral
Source: NCPG 2011
What would you do?
24%
22%
19%
10%
9%
8%
5%
5%
5%
4%
3%
3%
1%
13%
Refer to GA
Urge self-control
Call help line
Talk to them
Clergy
Physician
Gambling program
Internet
Nothing
Friend or relative
Mental health clinic
Other
Intervention
Don't know
Source: SCSU 2/06
32%
30%
38%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40%
Neutral
Disagree
Agree
Source: NCPG 2015
“…Services to treat compulsive gambling are
available in my community”
45%
20%
35%
34%
11%
55%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
Don't know
Disagree
Agree
Gamblers
Non-gamblers
“…Services to treat compulsive gambling are
available in my community”
Source: SCSU 2/09
Who would you turn to if you or a friend had
a gambling problem?
4%
11%
17%
17%
21%
22%
68%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Other
Friends
Help line
School counselor
Teacher
Internet
Parent
Source: 4/08 MN DHS survey of 121 10th graders
Qualitative Research Findings
Interviews
Focus Groups
What should we call it?
• Compulsive gambling
• Gambling addiction
• Weak willed gambling
• Treatable addiction
• Problem gambling
• Moral weakness
• Lifestyle choice
• Compulsive gambling
• Gambling addiction
• Weak willed gambling
• Treatable addiction
• Problem gambling
• Moral weakness
• Lifestyle choice
What should we call it?
• Compulsive gambling
• Gambling addiction
• Weak willed gambling
• Treatable addiction
• Problem gambling
• Moral weakness
• Lifestyle choice
What is the best term?
“Compulsive gambling is not
serious, and it’s a lifestyle choice.
It’s like going to the bar and
enjoying pulltabs and beers several
times a week. It becomes a
problem when the player has to hit
the ATM too often.”
Consensus opinion
• Starts as a lifestyle choice
• Becomes uncontrollable due to financial losses
or pleasure of win
• Ultimately becomes an addiction
• This addiction is treatable
Key Findings
• Opinions are poorly formed and weakly held (mostly)
• Problem gambling is accepted as a serious issue
• But it is often seen as a moral weakness
• It is commonly stigmatized
• It happens to “other” people
• The public is skeptical about treatment effectiveness
• They are not aware of services
• Problem gambling is poorly understood
Key messages
• Problem gambling can affect anyone, regardless
of age or social/ethnic class
• Problem gambling is not a moral weakness. It is
a medical condition.
• Problem gambling is preventable
• Treatment is available
• Treatment works
Implications
“How many of our goals will be accomplished with
a common perception that problem gambling is a
moral weakness, that it can be controlled through
greater willpower, and that treatment doesn’t
work?”
• Feeney, Northstar Roundtable (2008)
Indeed, Do We Have Goals?
• No national RG/PG plan (yet…) and few
comprehensive state/provincial plans
• $7 billion in Federal gaming revenue but still
the ONLY disorder without any Federal
personnel or funds?
• Still states with revenue from gaming & public
health consequences but no public funds?
Substance Use Disorders Gambling Disorders
• U.S. Pop. With Past Year
Problem 2
6 Million
(3 times smaller)
• 2013 Public Funds
Invested into Problem
Gambling Services4
$60.6 Million
(281 times smaller)
• U.S. Pop. With Past Year
Problem 1
18.9 Million
• 2009 Public Funds
Invested into SUD
Treatment3
$17 Billion
Lack of Seriousness
• Gambling excluded from Americans with
Disabilities Act
• No consistent minimum age, regulation
• Few courts accept gambling as a insanity
defense, mitigating circumstance or sentencing
consideration
Standards, Anyone?
• National benchmarks/consensus/standards/best
practices for PETERRR?
• Or hundreds of jurisdictions doing things in
thousands different ways?
Looking Towards Future
• Shift to targeted & evaluated messages
• Better define “responsible gaming”
• Recovery seen as abstinent rather than tying to
stop
• Access to big data facilitates informed choice &
social norms approach.
• State, national or even global solutions for self-
exclusion.
Bottom Line
• Advocacy is the best way way to create positive
changes in these trends.
• Opportunity to change what it means to be a problem
gambler:
– Then & Now: Stigma, shame, indifference,
rare services, more likely to fail
– Next: Acceptance, support, broad & deep
services, more likely to succeed, recovery!
1. Open New Horizons app
2. Select the Agenda button
3. Select This Session
4. Select Take Survey at the bottom
To provide session feedback:
If you are unable to download the app,
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What the public thinks (and why it matters)

  • 1.
  • 2. What the Public Thinks About Problem Gambling (and Why It Matters) Keith Whyte National Council on Problem Gambling Don Feeney Minnesota Lottery
  • 3. What do we need to know? • How does the public perceive addiction? • Do they stigmatize addiction? • Do they recognize gambling addiction? • Do they understand the causes? • Do they understand the solutions? • Do they know where to go for help? • Do they know preventative factors? • What are they willing to do? • What messages are credible and appealing?
  • 4. Data Sources • Ipsos Reid US Express Omnibus Survey – + U.S adults – Internet sample of 1000 US adults – June 2009, September 2011, June 2012, May 2013, May 2014, May 2015 • Ipsos Reid Survey – Telephone sample – 1000 U.S. adults – June, 2008
  • 5. DOES THE PUBLIC UNDERSTAND ADDICTION?
  • 6. “…Compulsive gambling is an addiction just like addiction to drugs or alcohol” 72% 13% 15% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Agree Disagree Neutral Source: Ipsos 9/11 survey of 1009 US adults
  • 7. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Frequently talks about gambling Unexplained absences Gambles on regular basis Has financial troubles Tries to win back losses Gambles all the time Neglects family Lies about gambling Borrows money % of U.S. adults Source: NCPG (2015) What are the signs of a gambling problem?
  • 8. 2% 12% 15% 21% 36% 9% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 1% or less 2%-5% 6%-10% 11%-20% 21%-50% More than 50% “What percentage of U.S. adults have a gambling addiction?”
  • 10. Would you feel ashamed or embarrassed if a family member had … 18% 18% 12% 13% 4% 3% 26% 27% 27% 26% 11% 5% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Sex addiction Drug addiction Gambling addiction Alcohol addiction Mental Illness Used a wheelchair % of adults answering 5, 6, or 7 on a 1 (not ashamed) to 7 (extremely ashamed) scale 7 5 or 6 Source: NCPG 2015 8% 39% 39% 45% 44% 15%
  • 11. More likely to develop gambling addiction 55% 34% 29% 28% 45% 34% 12% Men Women High School Seniors Poor Minorities People like me Source: 2009 Voices of America Survey
  • 12. 5% 16% 26% 25% 8% 12% 43% Men Women High School Seniors Poor Minorities People like me Less likely to develop gambling addiction Source: 2009 Voices of America Survey
  • 13. DO THEY UNDERSTAND THE CAUSES?
  • 14. Would you say that addiction to gambling is primarily …? 49% 6% 31% 14% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Personal or moral weakness Medical problem Both Something else Source: NCPG 2015
  • 15. 38% 42% 51% 72% 73% 73% 81% Person's genetics or other medical problem Traumatic event in someone's life Moral weakness Parent or family member who gambles Being around people who gamble a lot Not having enough willpower Having an addictive personality Percent saying “very likely” or “somewhat likely” Source: NCPG 2013 How likely is this to cause a gambling addiction?
  • 16. “Controlling compulsive gambling is mostly a matter of willpower” 21% 23% 55% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Neutral Disagree Agree Source: NCPG 2012
  • 17. 12% 29% 1% 4% 54% 0% 20% 40% 60% No one All 3 Government Gambling venue Individual Source: 6/09 Ipsos Voice of Amercia Survey Who is to blame when someone develops a gambling addiction?
  • 18. 34% 53% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% The government should do more to help people with gambling addiction The gambling industry should do more to help people with gambling addiction Percent agreeing Source: NCPG 2015
  • 19. DO THEY UNDERSTAND THE SOLUTIONS?
  • 20. How successful is this as a solution to a gambling addiction? 32% 43% 44% 46% 55% 68% 75% 79% 79% 81% Medication Talking to a financial counselor Education about gambling, such as odds and… Counseling with a religious leader Limiting their access to money Abstinence from gambling Treatment by a trained professional Support from family Counseling with someone in recovery Participation in Gambler's Anonymous Percent saying “very successful” or “somewhat successful” Source: Ipsos US Express Omnibus, May 2013
  • 21. “…The majority of people who receive treatment for compulsive gambling achieve life-long recovery” 40% 29% 31% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Neutral Disagree Agree Source: NCPG 2012
  • 22. “When you hear the word ‘recovery,’ as in ‘this person is in recovery from a gambling addiction,’ what does it mean to you?” 19% 23% 54% 4% No longer gambles Has gambling under control Trying to stop Don't know Source: NCPG 2012
  • 23. DO THEY KNOW WHAT TO DO?
  • 24. “If a friend or family member approached me with a gambling problem, I am confident I would know where to get them help” 37% 43% 20% Agree Disagree Neutral Source: NCPG 2011
  • 25. What would you do? 24% 22% 19% 10% 9% 8% 5% 5% 5% 4% 3% 3% 1% 13% Refer to GA Urge self-control Call help line Talk to them Clergy Physician Gambling program Internet Nothing Friend or relative Mental health clinic Other Intervention Don't know Source: SCSU 2/06
  • 26. 32% 30% 38% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% Neutral Disagree Agree Source: NCPG 2015 “…Services to treat compulsive gambling are available in my community”
  • 27. 45% 20% 35% 34% 11% 55% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Don't know Disagree Agree Gamblers Non-gamblers “…Services to treat compulsive gambling are available in my community” Source: SCSU 2/09
  • 28. Who would you turn to if you or a friend had a gambling problem? 4% 11% 17% 17% 21% 22% 68% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Other Friends Help line School counselor Teacher Internet Parent Source: 4/08 MN DHS survey of 121 10th graders
  • 30. What should we call it? • Compulsive gambling • Gambling addiction • Weak willed gambling • Treatable addiction • Problem gambling • Moral weakness • Lifestyle choice
  • 31. • Compulsive gambling • Gambling addiction • Weak willed gambling • Treatable addiction • Problem gambling • Moral weakness • Lifestyle choice What should we call it?
  • 32. • Compulsive gambling • Gambling addiction • Weak willed gambling • Treatable addiction • Problem gambling • Moral weakness • Lifestyle choice What is the best term?
  • 33. “Compulsive gambling is not serious, and it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s like going to the bar and enjoying pulltabs and beers several times a week. It becomes a problem when the player has to hit the ATM too often.”
  • 34.
  • 35. Consensus opinion • Starts as a lifestyle choice • Becomes uncontrollable due to financial losses or pleasure of win • Ultimately becomes an addiction • This addiction is treatable
  • 36. Key Findings • Opinions are poorly formed and weakly held (mostly) • Problem gambling is accepted as a serious issue • But it is often seen as a moral weakness • It is commonly stigmatized • It happens to “other” people • The public is skeptical about treatment effectiveness • They are not aware of services • Problem gambling is poorly understood
  • 37. Key messages • Problem gambling can affect anyone, regardless of age or social/ethnic class • Problem gambling is not a moral weakness. It is a medical condition. • Problem gambling is preventable • Treatment is available • Treatment works
  • 38. Implications “How many of our goals will be accomplished with a common perception that problem gambling is a moral weakness, that it can be controlled through greater willpower, and that treatment doesn’t work?” • Feeney, Northstar Roundtable (2008)
  • 39. Indeed, Do We Have Goals? • No national RG/PG plan (yet…) and few comprehensive state/provincial plans • $7 billion in Federal gaming revenue but still the ONLY disorder without any Federal personnel or funds? • Still states with revenue from gaming & public health consequences but no public funds?
  • 40. Substance Use Disorders Gambling Disorders • U.S. Pop. With Past Year Problem 2 6 Million (3 times smaller) • 2013 Public Funds Invested into Problem Gambling Services4 $60.6 Million (281 times smaller) • U.S. Pop. With Past Year Problem 1 18.9 Million • 2009 Public Funds Invested into SUD Treatment3 $17 Billion
  • 41. Lack of Seriousness • Gambling excluded from Americans with Disabilities Act • No consistent minimum age, regulation • Few courts accept gambling as a insanity defense, mitigating circumstance or sentencing consideration
  • 42. Standards, Anyone? • National benchmarks/consensus/standards/best practices for PETERRR? • Or hundreds of jurisdictions doing things in thousands different ways?
  • 43. Looking Towards Future • Shift to targeted & evaluated messages • Better define “responsible gaming” • Recovery seen as abstinent rather than tying to stop • Access to big data facilitates informed choice & social norms approach. • State, national or even global solutions for self- exclusion.
  • 44. Bottom Line • Advocacy is the best way way to create positive changes in these trends. • Opportunity to change what it means to be a problem gambler: – Then & Now: Stigma, shame, indifference, rare services, more likely to fail – Next: Acceptance, support, broad & deep services, more likely to succeed, recovery!
  • 45. 1. Open New Horizons app 2. Select the Agenda button 3. Select This Session 4. Select Take Survey at the bottom To provide session feedback: If you are unable to download the app, please raise your hand for a paper version.