NEW BRUNSWICK — The accessibility of casino gaming in the state has contributed to a gambling-disorders rate four times the national average, according to a recent report by the Rutgers University Center for Gambling Studies.
One of every 16 adults reported symptoms of a serious gambling problem, according to the report.
“For most people, gambling is recreation,” said Lia Nower, the center’s director, who led the study. “But the more games you play, the more often you gamble and the more venues you frequent, the more likely you are to develop a problem.”
Of the more than 3,634 people surveyed, more than 6 percent meet the criteria for gambling disorders, while nearly 15 percent reported gambling problems. The rates are significantly higher than in previous studies in 1989 and 1999, according to the report.
The findings of the report were not a surprise to Nower, considering the amount of gaming options in the state and region.
“We have to educate people on what is recreation and what is a problem,” she said.
The report says more has to be done to protect those with gambling issues, including strengthening responsible-gambling programs online and ensuring proportionate representation of gambling-treatment services across regions.
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“This study will help us to target the areas that need attention the most,” said Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of NJ. “With the overall prevalence rates being higher compared to studies in the past, we know that it is extremely important to get out the message of support, treatment and hope to all residents of the state of New Jersey.”
Overall, nearly 70 percent of New Jersey residents surveyed reported gambling in the past year, according to the report. While only 5 percent of gamblers reported gambling online, 75 percent used casinos, according to the report. The study also found 19 percent of those surveyed gamble at both brick-and-mortar casinos and online.
“The convenience and speed inherent in gambling online, combined with land-based opportunities like casinos, race tracks, convenience-store lotteries and poker tournaments, will increase the likelihood that individuals will gamble more frequently,” according to the report. “Increased frequency, in turn, leads to increased losses over time as well as to habituation and cognitive distortions that challenge the notion of randomness and chance and fuel chasing behavior and continued play.”