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Most Iowans say they gamble

DES MOINES – A report released by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) concludes that while Iowa’s percentage of pathological gambling remains low (about one percent), the percentage of Iowans who are at risk for developing a gambling problem is high (13.1 percent). Of the 1,700 Iowans interviewed for Gambling Attitudes and Behaviors: A 2011 Survey of Adult Iowans, 91 percent reported having gambled ever in their lives, and 69 percent reported gambling in the past 12 months.

“While this survey shows most Iowans say they gamble for entertainment or fun (80 percent), it’s clear the activity isn’t always perceived as being harmless by those around the gambler,” said Mark Vander Linden, program manager of the IDPH Office of Problem Gambling Treatment and Prevention. “Although the percentage of pathological gambling is low, more than one in five adult Iowans (22 percent) report having been negatively affected by the gambling behaviors of family members, friends, or others they know.” Of the 13 percent of Iowans who report one or more symptoms of problem gambling in the past 12 months, 18 percent said they want to reduce or quit gambling. Symptoms of problem gambling include:

Preoccupation with gambling
Need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement
Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling
Restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
Gambling as a way to escape
After losing money gambling, returning another day to “get even”
Lying to conceal the extent of gambling
Committing illegal acts to finance gambling
Jeopardizing or losing significant relationships because of gambling
Relying on others to provide money to relieve financial problems caused by gambling
Betting more than one could afford to lose
Feeling guilty about the way one gambles or what happens when gambling

The most common gambling activity reported by Iowans was raffle tickets (including charity), followed by slot machines, lotteries and scratch tickets or pull tabs. To see the complete report, which was conducted by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research, visit

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