This week the National Council on Problem Gaming (NCPG) released the results of its National Survey of Gambling Attitudes and Gambling Experiences. One of the key findings? The vast majority of Americans support responsible gambling measures to address the addiction as the industry expands nationwide.

Pennsylvania’s gambling expansion law legalized PA online casinos and PA sports betting, and online lottery within the Keystone State. Naturally, many Pennsylvanian’s are thinking about responsible gambling and concerns about a higher prevalence of gambling addiction.

Public more accepting of and willing to gamble

The NCPG, an advocacy organization for people and their families who are affected by problem gambling and gambling addiction, commissioned Ipsos to survey 3,000 participants across the country for the study.  The goal was to “examine the experiences with various forms of gambling.”

Additionally, the study gauged “attitudes about gambling among participants in the study.”

Results from the survey indicate something of a shift in public perception of gambling. Per the study, 57 percent of respondents disagreed that “gambling is immoral.” Only 13 percent agreed with the statement, while 30 percent remained neutral.

Gambling Policy Consultant for National Council on Problem Gambling and President of Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance Don Feeney noted in the release that “almost three-quarters of the American public” gambles occasionally.

Feeny added:

“However, there are a small but significant number who are indulging in risky practices or who don’t understand how gambling works. As we continue to analyze the data we anticipate learning more about these people and how we can help reduce their risks.”

Study homes in on sports betting

One emphasis of the NCPG survey was the legalization of sports betting.

Nationwide, state-regulated wagering industries are cropping up. Meanwhile, many other states have begun introducing bills to legalize the activity.

The NCPG found that 63 percent of respondents believed it was important for sportsbook operators to implement responsible gambling measures. That was not all the survey discovered either.

Gaming industry, PGCB could do more

Some 63 percent of participants believe the gambling industry “should do more to help people with a gambling addiction.”

Moreover, 43 percent agreed that governments should do more to help problem gambling. Similarly, 56 percent said a portion of revenue should go to public education about problem gambling. Some 52 percent said revenue should go toward treating problem gambling. Per the release:

“By a 2 to 1 margin clear majorities (of participants in the study) also believe it is important to set aside some revenues for treatment and for public awareness campaigns.”

Pennsylvania increased “gambling treatment and prevention dollars” following the gambling expansion law of 2017. According to a release from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) that increase ensures that newer legal gambling options contribute to the Compulsive and Problem Gambling Treatment Fund.

The PGCB recognized March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month as a way to “help individuals with a gambling addiction.”

PA celebrates Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Pennsylvania dove headlong into Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

The PGCB sent staff from its Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling to attend three events during March. The message?

Problem gambling can affect any person of any age, race, and background.

“Our agency has made outreach for problem gamblers a priority since the opening of the first casinos in Pennsylvania over 12 years ago,” said PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole. “With the expansion of gaming beyond the walls of the casinos, our agency is expanding its efforts in ensuring the tools will be available to self-exclude from gambling or limit one’s spend or time spent on gambling.”

According to a 2016 Survey of Problem Gambling Services in the United States, the NCPG estimated that 2.2 percent of adults in Pennsylvania have a gambling problem. That is 222,000 people.

It is also only a fraction of the 2 million who meet criteria for pathological gaming. And only a sliver of the additional 4 million to 6 million who would be considered problem gamblers.

This latest study provides the NCPG with an “important baseline” as gambling continues to expand, according to Keith Whyte.

“In analyzing the data, we hope to better understand problem gambling and people’s attitudes toward it,” the NCPG executive director said. “The data will be a critical tool for advocates, industry, and legislators as they consider state-by-state sports betting initiatives, providing evidence to illuminate patterns of past behaviors as they consider possible future impacts.”