In 2021, 84% of Indiana adults reported participating in at least one gambling activity in the past year, according to a new survey of adult gambling behaviors in the state.
Led by researchers at Prevention Insights, part of the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, the survey was funded by the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling to assess the scope of gambling activities, the prevalence of problem-gambling behaviors, and awareness of problem-gambling resources among adults in Indiana.
“Gambling has been legal in Indiana for over 30 years, and this survey is the first look at Indiana adults’ behaviors around gambling. Indiana is one of a few states that support efforts to address problem-gambling treatment needs with support from a portion of the revenues produced by gambling activities in the state. The results of this survey will be used to set priorities for treatment and awareness activities across Indiana,” Mary Lay, research associate and program manager of Prevention Insights’ Indiana Problem Gambling Awareness Program, said.
A random sample of Indiana residents age 18 or older completed the survey between March and May 2021. Data from responses were weighted to ensure proportional representation to Indiana’s overall adult population, Lay said.
According to the survey, lotteries were the most popular form of gambling among Indiana adults, with 71.7% of respondents reporting playing any lottery. The survey also found that 46.2% reported visiting casinos to gamble, and 20.5% reported participating in any sports gaming in the past year. The most common gambling activities that respondents engaged in were lotteries (61%), scratch tickets (59%), raffle tickets (49.9%), card games (44.2%), and games of personal skill (40.1%).
Lay said the most statistically significant differences in overall gambling participation were found in relation to sports gaming, which Indiana legalized in 2019. Men were more likely to participate in any sports gaming than women, and younger adults, age 18 to 34, were more likely to participate than older adults.
Additional survey findings include:
- The prevalence of problem gambling among Indiana’s adult population was less than 5%.
- 1% of respondents had gambling disorders.
- 4% of respondents were pathological gamblers.
- 5% of respondents reported severe problematic gambling.
- Men reported more pathological gambling than women (6.9% vs. 0.5%).
- Younger adults, age 18 to 34, were more likely to be grouped into low-severity problem-gambling categories than older adults.
- 8% of respondents were aware of the gambling helpline 1-800-9WITHIT.
- 2% of respondents had ever sought treatment for a gambling problem.
“The survey results affirmed research by others that problem gambling affects about 3% of the adult population, yet we do not see this in the numbers seeking treatment. These results will provide opportunities to find support for more advocacy and education around problem gambling,” Lay said.
“Gambling addiction is often seen as a chosen behavior and not a disease, such as alcoholism. Further education of the risks of gambling for more than entertainment or recreation can improve the lives of many Hoosiers.”
Lay said that researchers plan to continue this survey in the future to assess how Indiana adults’ gambling behaviors evolve over time.