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UMBC Researchers Find 1 in 30 Maryland Adults Have a Gambling Problem

Dinah Winnick
Communications Manager
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

On June 13, 2011, Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) released Gambling Prevalence in Maryland: A Baseline Analysis, prepared by a team from UMBC’s Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (MIPAR). The study on gambling habits and pathological gambling behaviors found that although gambling is largely a positive activity for Marylanders, 3.4% of Maryland adults experience problem or pathological gambling.

According to the report, the essential features of “pathological gambling” include “continuous or periodic loss of control over gambling, progression in gambling involvement, and a continuation of involvement despite adverse consequences” such as damage to “personal, family or vocational pursuits.” Interventions, such as counseling, can prevent less severe “problem gambling” from progressing to the more serious disorder.

This study was mandated by a 2007 law authorizing video lottery terminals and expanding the gambling environment in Maryland. Study team leader Judith Shinogle, MIPAR research scientist, explains “the baseline study determines the geographic regions where Marylanders gambled prior to the implementation of slots.” Future replication studies will be necessary “to determine whether the implementation of slots can be associated with any subsequent changes in problem gambling behaviors and negative social impacts.”

Additional study collaborators, beyond MIPAR at UMBC, include Gemini Research, Inc., and the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy, which collected the data. They contacted 56,807 households between September 7, 2010 and October 31, 2010 for a final sample of 5,975. Their survey assessed gambling through casinos, lottery, horse and dog racing, bingo, sports, private games and websites.

Tom Carigulo, Director of the Maryland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration, says, “The results will help us design the next steps directed toward preventing and treating gambling disorders.” The full report is available at www.umbc.edu/mipar.

This study is the second major piece of gambling research produced by UMBC social scientists in recent months. Robert E. Carpenter, Evan L. Perlman and Donald F. Norris coauthored “Who Pays for the Maryland Lottery? Evidence from Point of Sale Data” in The Journal of Gambling Business and Economics. The research used a novel interdisciplinary approach including GIS maps to examine lottery sales in relation to demographics.

Their findings show “the voluntary tax collected by the Maryland lottery comes disproportionately from census tracts populated by African American s and low-income residents,” specifically those “with less than a high-school education, and people age 65 and older.” Speaking to policymakers, the researchers write that states “must consider if the burden of the voluntary tax represented by lottery expenditures and the fact that lottery revenues are drawn disproportionately from what are commonly thought to be disadvantaged socio-economic groups is consistent with their broader social policies.”

Posted: June 16, 2011, 12:00 PM