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Pathological gambling among a sample of casino patrons

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Gamblers (iStock)

Research on the gambling industry has increased in recent years as more states have considered or enacted plans to permit the building of casinos or to allow other forms of gambling. Still, there has been relatively little on-site research chronicling gambling behavior at casinos themselves.

A 2011 study from UCLA published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, “Problem and Pathological Gambling in a Sample of Casino Patrons,” surveyed 176 gamblers at a casino site in southern California to assess their habits and associated lifestyle and health outcomes. The data were based on the gamblers’ self-reporting on anonymous questionnaires. The survey took place over a three-day, round-the-clock period; its sample was 78% male and 69% Caucasian.

The study’s major findings include:

  • Of those surveyed on site, 54 (30.3%) were classified as non-problem gamblers, 52 (29.2%) were at-risk gamblers, 19 (10.7%) were problem gamblers, and 53 (29.8%) were pathological gamblers.
  • Overall, more than 40% of casino patrons reported experiencing at least three serious gambling-related symptoms in their lifetime.
  • Among the pathological gamblers, 61.8% reported that they gambled to make money.
  • Self-identified smokers had a higher probability of being classified as problem or pathological gamblers than those who reported not smoking.
  • Pathological gambling did not have a significantly higher association with alcohol use or with poorer self-rated health levels.

The researchers conclude that “given the potentially high rate of gambling problems among casino patrons, there is a need for formal prevention and intervention measures in casino settings.”

Tags: addiction, entertainment, gambling, tobacco

    Writer: | Last updated: May 2, 2011

    Citation: Fong T. W.; et al. “Problem and Pathological Gambling in a Sample of Casino Patrons,” Journal of Gambling Studies, March, 2011, Vol. 27, Issue 1, 35-47.DOI: 10.1007/s10899-010-9200-6.

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    Analysis assignments

    Read the UCLA study "Problem and Pathological Gambling in a Sample of Casino Patrons."

    1. Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
    2. Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
    3. Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)

    Read the issue-related Wall Street Journal article "Cash Off Table for Gambling Addicts."

    1. If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?

    Newswriting assignments

    1. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
    2. Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
    3. Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
    4. Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.