HomeNJ Sports Betting NewsNew Jersey Residents Still Have High Rate of Problem Gambling, Report Says

New Jersey Residents Still Have High Rate of Problem Gambling, Report Says

In 2017, the Rutgers University School of Social Work, Center for Gambling Studies issued a report by Dr. Nia Lower entitled “The Prevalence of Online and Land-Based Gambling in New Jersey."

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The study laid out the amount of gambling interest residents had in the wake of the legalization of online casino gaming in the state, which was launched 10 years ago next month.

Last week, a long-awaited sequel was published – and with it, key information that includes the impact of New Jersey sports betting legalization that kicked off in 2018.

For instance, the survey indicated that about 61 percent of state residents participated in one or more of the 15 listed gambling activities in the prior year.

There were mixed results in terms of so-called “problem gambling.”

The overall rate of high-risk problem gambling decreased from 6.3% to 5.6%, and low- to moderate-risk gambling decreased from about 15% to about 13%.

But New Jersey’s rate of problem gambling still is about three times the national average, an issue that was similar to the findings from the 2017 report.

Participation in sports wagering was found increased from about 15% to a little more than 19% as a result of the new option of making such wagers legally.

The proportion of online-only gamblers, meanwhile, nearly tripled from about 5% in 2017 to nearly 15% in the new survey, while the proportion of individuals who gambled at mixed venues – both brick-and-mortar locations and online – nearly doubled from 19% to 36%.

Nearly three-quarters of 2017 survey participants only gambled at brick-and-mortar casinos, but that number dwindled to just under half in the new survey as consumer awareness of the option of online casinos in New Jersey has grown substantially.

“As New Jersey’s gaming industry continues to grow, we have an obligation to help those suffering from problem gaming and gambling addiction issues,” Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said in a statement. “Through the release of this report, we are taking a comprehensive look at the pervasiveness of gambling across the state – and with it, able to better identify challenges for our most vulnerable populations and design programs and initiatives to assist them.”

The report was released during the latter days of Responsible Gaming Education Month.

“We are dedicated to helping players play responsibly,” said David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. “For some people, this means setting limits to keep the experience enjoyable and social. For others who are struggling with problem gambling, it may mean signing up for self-exclusion or seeking out additional resources. We encourage both players and operators to maintain a balanced perspective on gambling.”

Earlier this year, Platkin announced several steps to boost responsible gaming in New Jersey, including making it easier for people to self-exclude themselves from gambling; naming a coordinator in charge of all responsible gaming efforts; setting advertising standards; and working with online wagering companies to use technology to assist at-risk patrons.

“New Jersey has led the nation in evaluating every bet placed online and addressing the impact of wagering on its residents,” said Dr. Nower. “This report provides evidence to guide prevention and education efforts for those at highest risk for gambling problems: Younger adults, members of ethnic and racial minority groups, and those who gamble on multiple activities and bet both online and in land-based venues.”

Gambling by Gender, Age, Marital Status, Income

Men (66.3%) were found to be more likely than women (56.4%) to gamble.

Women in this survey gambled online only at about four times the rate of the prior survey, increasing from about 3% to 13%. Men’s online-only participation featured a lesser rate of increase, from 7% to 17%.

Men had double the rate of high-risk problem gambling compared to women.

Nearly half of all men gambled at mixed venues (online and land-based), with rates increasing by about 19% from the last survey. Women gambled in mixed venues significantly less than men.

Also, women were significantly more likely to gamble exclusively at land-based venues compared to men. However, the proportion of women gambling at land-based venues has decreased by 24% since the 2017 report.

Men were overrepresented in the moderate- and high-risk problem gambling groups, while women made up a larger proportion of non-problem gamblers.

More than half of respondents in every age category gambled in the past year, with the highest rates of participation in the age 45 to 54 group, with 69% reporting gambling.

Not surprisingly, one-third of gamblers aged 18 to 24 gambled online only, nearly five times as many as in the prior survey and more than any other age group.

Problem gambling severity also differed by age. Individuals aged 18 to 44 were found to be most likely to be high-risk problem gamblers. About 19% of those ages 18 to 24 also were at high risk for problem gambling, which alarmingly includes some who are not of legal age to engage in some forms of gambling in the state.

Younger, high-frequency gamblers (gambling once a week or more) were over-represented in their participation in all gambling activities except lottery, instant scratch-off purchasing, and gaming machines (slots, video poker).

As in the 2017 gambling prevalence study, more than half of those who gambled were married.

Proportionately, married gamblers – along with those who were divorced or widowed – were over-represented among those gambling only in land-based venues.

Gambling participation rates were highest among those who reported an annual household income between $125,000 and $150,000 (73.0%), followed by those who earned $70,000 to $100,000 (68.0%).

The most popular activities were purchasing lottery tickets (73.0%), which declined about 7% in popularity, and instant scratch-off tickets (59.1%), which also declined about 5%.

The Fine Print

The researchers surveyed 3,512 New Jersey residents aged 18 and over between Dec. 9, 2020, and April 30, 2021, via telephone and online questionnaires and analyzed their self-reported patterns of play.

The survey questions asked about participation in activities involving consideration, chance, and a prize. Respondents were also asked about the following 15 activities: lottery, instant scratch-off tickets, high-risk stocks, gaming machines such as slots or video poker, games of skill, live casino table games, sports wagering, season-long fantasy sports, bingo, cryptocurrency trading, live poker or poker tournaments, daily fantasy sports, horse race wagering, esports wagering, and keno.

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