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Prevalence of Gambling in New Jersey

The Prevalence of Online and Land-based Gambling in New Jersey

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Executive Summary

Overall, nearly 70% of New Jersey residents reported gambling in the past year, though percentages varied by region and demographic variables. A majority of those who gambled did so at land‐based venues (75.5%). Only 5.3% of the sample exclusively gambled online, though 19.2% gambled at both online and land‐based venues. The prevalence rate of gambling disorder in the total sample was 6.3% – about three times higher than the average rate in other population samples. In addition, 14.9% of the sample reported gambling problems, which is also nearly three times higher than the average rate across studies. These findings are largely due to the high rate of gambling problems in the online panel sample, which reported a rate of 10.5% for disorder and 21.6% for problem gambling. In contrast, the rate of gambling disorder in the telephone sample was well below average. 0.3%, and the problem rate was about average, 5.7%. For purposes of comparison, however, it is important to note that some prevalence studies continue to conduct data collection using only random digit dialing of land‐line phones; this methodology can grossly underestimate the prevalence rate because it excludes those who use only cell phones, that is, younger adults and ethnic minorities who traditionally have higher rates of gambling and gambling problems.

 

Region:

  • The Greater Atlantic City and Southern Shore regions reported the highest percentages of past‐year gamblers (72.2% and 76.4%), followed by the Skyland and Shore regions (72.1% and 71.3%).
  • The Greater Atlantic City Region reported the highest percentage of those who only gambled online as well as those who gamble online and at land‐based venues.
  • About 80% of respondents in the Shore Region gambled only at land‐based venues; this was the highest rate of any region and significantly higher than Greater Atlantic City but not other regions.

 

Gender:

  • Men (72.8%) were significantly more likely than women (66.9%) to have gambled in the past year and to gamble either online‐only or online and at land‐based venues.
  • A higher proportion of women (84.3%), compared to men (67.2%), endorsed land‐based only gambling.
  • Overall, men were over‐represented in the high frequency (once a week or more) group and women, in the low frequency (less than once/month) group.
  • Women primarily endorsed a preference for purchasing scratch‐off and lottery tickets and playing bingo. Men were more likely than women to engage in sports betting, live poker, casino table games, and bet on horses; older men, however, endorsed a preference for gaming machines.
  • Men averaged slightly more gambling activities than women (3.4 v 2.6) and were overrepresented in all the problem gambling categories (low, moderate and high‐risk); in contrast, women comprised a larger proportion of non‐problem gamblers.

     

Age:

  • The spectrum of gambling problems was proportionately represented across all age categories, except for the two oldest where rates were lowest. Only 7.7% of moderate risk problem gamblers were 55 to 64‐years‐old and only 3.1% of 55 to 64‐year‐olds would meet criteria for gambling disorder (high risk problem). Similarly, only 9% of moderate risk problem gamblers and 0.9% of high risk problem gamblers were 65 years and older, the lowest proportion of any age category.

 

Race/Ethnicity:

  • About 71% of White, compared to 69% of Hispanic and 68.6% of Black or African American respondents, reported gambling in the past year. Those who endorsed Asian/Other reported the highest rates of gambling online‐only (9.1%), followed by Hispanics (6.9%). Asians also reported the highest rates of mixed (online and land‐based) gambling (30.3%), followed by Hispanics (29.4%), though each constituted just 12% of all mixed venue gamblers. Whites again made up the highest overall proportion of land‐based gamblers (65.3% of total); of those White gamblers, 80.7% gambled only in land‐based venues, the highest percentage of any race, followed by Black or African Americans (77.9%).
  • A significantly higher proportion of Whites as compared to other groups gambled less than once per month. Hispanics were overrepresented among high‐frequency gamblers (once a week or more), followed by Asian/Other and Black or African Americans.
  • Overall, rates of problem gambling were highest among Hispanics, with 16.2% classified in the high‐risk problem gambling group, followed by Asian/Others (14.1%). Overall, Whites (76.1%) were significantly more likely than other groups to be classified as non-problem, and Black or African Americans (18.5%), as low‐risk problem gamblers.

 

Marital Status and Household Income

  • A majority of those who gambled at any venue were married. Proportionately, however, single gamblers were overrepresented among online‐only gamblers, and divorced, separated or widowed gamblers were overrepresented among both land‐based and mixed (online and land‐based) venue gamblers.
  • High risk problem gamblers were significantly less likely to be divorced/separated/widowed than other groups. In contrast, moderate risk problem gamblers were more likely to be single/never married than to be married or divorced, separated or widowed.
  • Gambling participation increased with household income, up to the threshold of
  • $69,999, where 76.1% of respondents endorsed gambling. Rates were significantly higher in the online panel, where respondents reported increasing rates of participation through $149,999.
  • Individuals reporting the lowest household income also reported the lowest rate of past year participation in gambling; however, those who made less than $15,000 per year were also the most likely to gamble exclusively online.
  • Households reporting $100,000 to $150,000 in income had the highest rates of both online and land‐based gambling and the lowest rates of gambling exclusively online or on land.

 

Education:

  • By education level, participants with a high school diploma or GED reported the highest rate of gambling involvement, followed by those who had some college.
  • Gambling rates were lowest among those in the highest (Master’s, Doctorate) and lowest (<HS or GED) educational brackets.
  • In the online panel, those with a professional degree beyond a Bachelor’s degree or some college were the most likely, and those with less than a high school education or GED were least likely to have gambled in the past year.
  • In the phone panel, rates of gambling were highest among those with a two or four year college degree and lowest among those with less than a high school education or GED.
  • Those with a Master’s or Doctorate degree were the most likely to gamble only online and those with a professional degree beyond a bachelor’s were the least likely. However, nearly 30% of those with less than a high school education or GED gambled both online and on land, followed by those with a professional degree beyond college.
  • Gamblers with more than a year of college were the most likely to gamble in land‐based venues, followed by those with a high school diploma or GED and less than a year of college.
  • Gambling problems occurred across the spectrum of education levels, however, problem gamblers were significantly more likely than other groups to have less than a high school education or GED, but they were also overrepresented among those with professional and doctorate degrees in the online panel only.

 

Employment:

  • Three‐fourths of those who were employed for wages reported past‐year gambling, followed by those who were self‐employed or out‐of‐work less than one year.
  • The lowest rates of gambling participation were found among those who were retired, unable to work, or students.

 

Online versus LandBased Gambling

  • About 5.3% of gamblers (n=134) gambled exclusively online and 19.2% (n=487) gambled both online and at land‐based venues.
  • A majority of high frequency gamblers gambled both online and in land‐based venues, followed by online‐only and land‐based only.
  • The average gambler in the study participated in three gambling activities. Those who gambled only at land‐based venues endorsed slightly more than two activities, and those who gambled only online endorsed three activities. However, those who gambled at mixed venues indicated they gambled on nearly six activities.
  • Problem gambling severity was highest in the mixed group (land‐based and online), followed by online‐only and land‐based only gamblers.
  • A majority of online gamblers reported gambling before gambling was legal in New Jersey, but one‐third indicated they began gambling after legalization.
  • The most influential factors in initiating online gambling were, in rank order: convenience, 24‐7 access, the comfort of gambling from home, prizes such as bonuses and free credits, and use of free play or social media sites.
  • Online gamblers listed the main advantages as, in rank order: convenience, 24‐7 access, comfort, freedom from driving to land‐based venues, and privacy/anonymity.
  • The main disadvantages, according to online gamblers, were, in rank order: ease of spending money online, “more addictive” than land‐based gambling, concerns about account safety online (money, personal information), and difficulty judging the fairness of the games.
  • More than 31% of online gamblers indicated they gambled online from work or during work hours; of those gamblers, 40% gambled one or two days a week and nearly 24% gambled three to five days per week.

 

Problem Gambling

  • In this study, frequency of reported gambling, the number of gambling activities, and mixed play (online and land‐based) was highly correlated with severity of gambling problems.
  • Nearly half of non‐problem gamblers (42.4%) gambled less than once per month (low frequency). However, among the low risk, moderate risk, and high risk problem gambling groups, rates of high frequency gambling were 51.6%, 61.3% and 89.4%, respectively.
  • The number of gambling activities, likewise, increased significantly with level of gambling problem severity: from two activities for non‐problem, to more than three for low risk, four for moderate risk, and seven for high risk problem gamblers who would classify as disordered.
  • Rates of problem gambling in the online panel were high, particularly among the online only and mixed venue groups, where more than a third of gamblers had some level of gambling problem.
  • In the phone panel, rates of problem severity were considerably lower, with only 3.6% of those who patronized both land‐based and online (mixed) venues reporting serious gambling problems that would likely meet criteria for disorder. However, even in the phone panel, a significant proportion of respondents reported gambling problems, ranging from 8.3% in land‐based only sample to 19.6% in the online and 27.8% in the mixed‐venue samples.
  • By gambling activity, the highest percentage of high‐risk problem gamblers bet on live poker (43.2%), followed by sports (41.9%) and other games of skill (33.5%); only 10.7% of problem gamblers played the lottery. Moderate risk problem gamblers were most likely to favor sports betting (18.6%) followed by bingo (14.2%) and games of skill (14.1%) and they were least likely to purchase lottery tickets (9.2%). However, among non‐problem gamblers, lottery (66.9%) and instant scratch‐offs (60.5%) were the two most frequently endorsed activities.
  • Within problem severity categories, a significantly higher proportion of high risk problem gamblers, compared to other gamblers, gambled on all gambling activities. Similarly, non-problem gamblers had the lowest overall rates of participation across activities.

 

Substance Use, Addictive Behaviors, and Mental Health Issues

  • Compared to non‐gamblers, gamblers were significantly more likely to use tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs as well as to binge drink and report problems with drugs or alcohol. More than three‐fourths of gamblers drank, and nearly 20% endorsed binge drinking. They were also significantly more likely than non‐gamblers to report problems with addictive behaviors.
  • Respondents who gambled in mixed venues (online and land‐based) reported significantly higher rates of tobacco use, binge drinking, illicit drug usage, and problems with drugs or alcohol, overeating and sex or pornography. Mixed venue gamblers also reported the highest rates of suicidal ideation (9.6%) and suicide attempts (6.0%), followed by those who gambled online‐only (6.1%, 3.7%, respectively).
  • High risk problem gamblers, those who would likely meet criteria for disorder, had the highest rates of smoking, binge drinking, illicit drug usage, problems with drugs or alcohol, overeating, sex or pornography, and excessive exercise. They also had the highest rates of serious mental health problems in the past month (42.7%), suicidal ideation (20.3%) and suicide attempts (15.4%). The rates of suicidality, which increase with gambling problem severity, are particularly notable when compared to those for non‐problem gamblers, where only 1.2% reported contemplating and 0.2% reported attempting suicide.

 

Daily Fantasy Sports:

A total of 336 respondents in the sample indicated that they had played daily fantasy sports (DFS) in the past year. Of those, all but seven also gambled.

  • Men who played DFS outnumbered women four‐to‐one and were slightly more likely to gamble online than women, who were more likely to gamble only at land‐based venues.
  • More than half of the sample of DFS players gambled on gaming machines, bingo, live casino table games, other games of skill, sports, and horses.
  • Notably, 95% of the DFS players who were also high risk problem gamblers gambled once a week or more often (high frequency), and none were low frequency gamblers. Indeed, across categories, DFS players who gambled were mostly in the high frequency group (69.6% to 95.0%), with only 1.7% of the moderate risk, 10.7% of the low risk, and 3.5% of the non‐problem gambling groups indicating they gambled less than once per month (low frequency).
  • DFS players were, on average, 25‐ to 44‐years‐old, White or Hispanic, married or living with a partner, college educated, middle income earners, and employed.
  • Gamblers who played DFS reported significantly more substance use, behavioral problems and mental health issues than non‐DFS gamblers. For example, half the sample used tobacco, four‐fifths used alcohol, and one‐third reported binge drinking and using illicit drugs. DFS players were more than twice as likely as other gamblers to endorse problems with overeating, nearly four times more likely to have problems with sex and pornography, and five times more likely to exercise excessively. More than one‐fourth of DFS players reported serious mental health issues in the past 30 days, twice as many as other gamblers.
  • Notably, 13.9% of DFS players reported suicidal ideation, compared to just 1.8% of other gamblers; 9.2% of DFS players indicated they had attempted suicide, compared to 0.5% of other gamblers.
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