According to results from the 2008 Louisiana Study on Problem Gambling, pathological gambling addiction services continue to be in demand as the rate of pathological gamblers in the state remains steady.    This news comes as the Department of Health – Office for Addictive Disorders, along with the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling , prepares for the 10th State Conference on Gambling Behavior on Nov. 5 – 7.

The study, conducted by the Picard Center for Child Development at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, is 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 four areas measured in the study, all divided by region, were problem and pathological gambling rates, gaming establishments and video gambling devices per capita rates, calls to the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline, and youth gambling data collected from the 2006 Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey.

The data reveals 1.7 percent of gamblers in the state are problem gamblers (at-risk for addiction), and 1.4 percent are pathological gamblers (or compulsive gamblers).  This represents an estimated 54,360 problem gamblers statewide, and 44,767 pathological gamblers.

“Conducting this study allows us to locate where the highest concentration of gambling activity is and treat it more effectively,” said Office for Addictive Disorders (OAD) Assistant Secretary Michael Duffy.  “OAD offers a multitude of options for individuals suffering from gambling addiction, including residential treatment, outpatient treatment and intensive outpatient treatment.”

Youth data indicates that almost 50 percent of Louisiana 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grade students have engaged in some form of gambling, most of them in the previous year.  The numbers were highest in the New Orleans and Houma/Thibodaux areas. 

“This data also helps us to identify areas where youths may be at-risk for developing problems associated with gambling,” said Duffy.  “This allows us to target our limited resources to develop prevention programming in these areas.”

Calls to the toll-free problem gambling Helpline were shown to have increased from 2002 to 2007.  In the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the Helpline received 53,127 calls.  Of the intake calls received in 2007, females represented 53 percent of the callers and males represented 45 percent.  Most of the callers identified themselves as either Caucasian (51 percent) or African American (37 percent).

The study also revealed the number of gambling sites in the state has decreased since 2002, from 2,890 locations to 2,372.  However, the number of gambling devices has increased during this time from 37,864 machines in 2002 to 44,504 machines in 2008.

Saff from the Picard Center will be available to discuss this study at the 10th Louisiana State Conference on Gambling Behavior.  The conference is being held Nov. 5 – 7 at the Shreveport Convention Center. Additionally, experts in the field of pathological gambling will be discussing issues related to Youth Problem Gambling, Myth or Reality?

The study will also be available online on the Office for Addictive Disorder’s Web site at beginning November 10.