A new Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) study, Gambling Attitudes and Behaviors: A 2018 Survey of Adult Iowans, estimates over 1.7 million (73.8 percent) adult Iowans gambled during the past 12 months. Of that number, about 315,000 (13.6 percent) are classified as “at-risk,” meaning they are experiencing some symptoms of problem gambling. These figures are up from the 2015 survey, which found 68.1% of adult Iowans had gambled during past 12 months and 12.6 percent classified as at-risk.
Symptoms of problem gambling include:
• Preoccupied with gambling, and/or restless or irritable when not gambling
• Secretive about gambling habits, and defensive when confronted
• Increasing bet amounts when gambling in order to achieve the desired excitement
• Trying unsuccessfully to control, cut back or stop gambling
• Gambling to escape problems
• Chasing losses with more gambling
• Committing crimes to finance gambling
• Jeopardizing or losing relationships, jobs, education or career opportunities because gambling
• Relying on others to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling
The report, prepared by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research, includes a companion document titled Sports Betting and Fantasy Sports, which found about 9 percent of adult Iowans either bet on sports or played fantasy sports. In this combined group, 23 percent were classified as at-risk gamblers, higher than the overall gambling at-risk percentage of 13.6 percent.
The IDPH Problem Gambling Treatment and Prevention program works to reduce the harm caused by problem gambling by funding a range of services for Iowans. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, visit Your Life Iowa at https://yourlifeiowa.org/gambling. To see the entire Gambling Attitudes and Behaviors: A 2018 Survey of Adult Iowans report, visit https://www.idph.iowa.gov/igtp/reports.