Tuesday, January 11, 2005

More women gamblers in states with machinesBy Brent A. Stachler

Once again, gambling expansion has become a topic of discussion in Indiana. Most interesting to me is the idea of gambling revenue paying for the Indianapolis Colts’ new stadium.
As in the past, the General Assembly has been faced with a bill that would expand gaming in Indiana through the addition of electronic gaming devices to Indiana’s horse-racing industry, which includes Trackside, Fort Wayne’s off-track betting parlor.
Regardless of the outcome during the upcoming session, I would like to share some information that is a result of the first National Women’s Think Tank on Healing and Problem Gambling. The rationale for this think tank is that there is little research and information regarding female gambling. A group of researchers has since “found no significant difference in the percentage of men versus women who gambled in the ‘charity/bingo’ category (raffles, office pools, charity, pull-tabs, bingo) or the ‘lottery/keno’ category (lottery, video-keno).”
One point of interest found by Dr. Rachel Volberg was that “in states with large numbers of gambling machines, the proportion of female problem gamblers is significantly higher than in states with much lower numbers of machines.” It was noted that women have a deeper sense of shame, leading to continued hiding of the gambling and limiting any desire to seek treatment.
With regard to age of first gambling, the think tank results noted that “men began wagering at a younger age, and women had a faster evolution of their gambling problems and help-seeking. For men, an average of 11 years elapsed between their first bet and the onset of pathological gambling; for women, the time span was only four years.”
But even more astounding is that the time span from the first betting to “crashing” for machine gamblers is six to 24 months. For those not aware, electronic gaming devices have been referred to as the “crack cocaine” of gambling, and this is the form of gambling being considered as a source of revenue for the state of Indiana as well as funding the Colts’ new stadium.
Brent A. Stachler is gambling addiction treatment coordinator for Park Center. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

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