These are some of the questions John W. Welte, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions, intends to answer in a new research study called “Problem Gambling — A Decade of Change.” Welte previously conducted the groundbreaking 1999-2000 investigation of problem and pathological gambling that provided answers about U.S. adult gambling frequency, locations and consequences.
With the award this month of a $3 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Welte will conduct a second national telephone survey of adults to learn about gambling trends during the past decade. Additionally, the new survey will include the relationship between respondent gambling and neighborhood characteristics, the distance traveled to gambling facilities and the permissiveness of state gambling laws. It will also gather information about growing forms of gambling such as Internet gambling, fantasy football and Texas Hold’em poker.
“This research will examine trends in gambling behavior and gambling problems among U.S. adults since 1999,” Welte said. “Most importantly, we also will examine the relationship between gambling trends and changes in the social approval of gambling, changes in neighborhoods and changes in state gambling laws. Because localities control the location and density of such gambling opportunities as casinos or lottery outlets, voters and policy makers have some influence over the rates of problem gambling in our society.”
In the 1999 study, gambling was found to be widespread with 82 percent of U.S. adults reporting gambling during the previous year. Problem drinkers were found to be 23 times more likely to have a gambling problem than individuals with no alcohol problem. A casino within 10 miles of home was found to be associated with a doubling of the probability of being a problem gambler.
“The current study will incorporate data from the 1999 survey with new data from U.S. adults,” Welte explained, “and will provide empirical information relevant to current controversies about gambling policy and liberalized gambling regulations.”
Welte is a national expert on the epidemiology of problem gambling and substance abuse. His research team includes co-investigator Grace M. Barnes, Ph.D., senior research scientist at RIA and adjunct associate professor in the UB Department of Sociology, and co-investigator William F. Wieczorek, Ph.D., director of the Center for Health and Social Research at Buffalo State College.
The Research Institute on Addictions has been a national leader in the study of addictions since 1970 and a research center of the University at Buffalo since 1999.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.