Although all areas of the state appear to have differing degrees of gambling problems, the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish areas appear to have greater instances of problem and pathological gambling.
These results are part of the 2002 Louisiana Study of Problem Gambling, conducted through the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy at Southern University. The study was intended to compare and contrast various degrees of gambling activity throughout the state to determine if gambling is spread statewide or concentrated in specific areas.
“The efforts behind conducting the study showcase the department’s push to combat addictive disorders of any kind,” said Secretary David W. Hood. “I commend the Office for Addictive Disorders staff for working to raise awareness about gambling as a type of addictive disorder and seeking effective treatments for it.”
The Department of Health and Hospitals’ OAD unveiled the study’s results Friday during an open house for Core South, a new compulsive gambling outpatient center housed in New Orleans at 1604 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. Core South
currently provides individuals and families who suffer from a gambling problem an opportunity to receive intense outpatient treatment services. The center will expand to provide residential board and care for 16 individuals who will need a safe environment while attending the intense patient outpatient services. This program is the first of its kind in the state.
The four areas measured in the study, all divided by region, were the prevalence of wagering and problem gambling; number of gambling establishments and devices; calls to the gambling helpline; and perceived gambling problems among high school students as observed by principals.
The statewide average is: 3 percent of gamblers in a region are problem gamblers and 1.6 percent are pathological gamblers; there are .89 sites for gambling and 11.71 devices per 1,000 adults in a region; and 58 percent of principals are aware of minor problems and 16.7 percent are aware of major problems associated with gambling. Gambling problems in different regions were assessed based on how much the statistics for that region deviated from the average.
“The OAD is grateful to have the data available to better target our limited resources for the purpose of helping those suffering from this addiction in our state,” said Assistant Secretary Mike Duffy. “We are excited about this innovative and cost-effective way of providing the maximum number of services to individuals and families within the New Orleans area whose lives have been devastated by this addiction.”
Region 1, which encompasses the New Orleans area, and the Jefferson Parish region were above the statewide areas in all categories. Region 5 (Lake Charles area) and Region 6 (Alexandria area) were below the statewide average for all categories. The remaining regions --- Capital Area Region (Baton Rouge area), Region 3 (Thibodaux area), Region 4 (Lafayette area), Region 7 (Shreveport area), Region 8 (Monroe area) and Region 9 (Mandeville area) --- all had mixed results, with some categories above the state average and others below. The Monroe region also showed a need for help with problem gambling, although all other areas of concern for that area were below the state average.
No statewide average for calls to the gambling Helpline was given, so whether the rates were high or low in a particular region was determined through population statistics. New Orleans, the Jefferson Parish area and the Shreveport area all had high rates of calls to the Helpline. However, researchers theorize that Shreveport area residents may make more calls because the Helpline is based out of that city, therefore raising awareness of its existence for those citizens.
“Louisiana is truly unique in its “Coalition of Concern,” made up of the state Office for Addictive Disorders, the gaming industry and our agency, all of which combine in a synergistic and highly effective way to address the concerns presented by problem and pathological gambling,” said Reece Middleton, executive director of the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling, which will operate the new facility. “We are at once challenged and humbled to have the opportunity to serve more completely troubled persons in the area of the state, which the new study shows has the greatest need.”
To view a full copy of the study, go to http://www.dhh.state.la.us/OADA/index.htm and click the link under “Newly Available OAD Reports.”