Inside Iowa State
Nov. 1, 1996
What Iowans say about gambling
by Michelle Johnson
Most Iowans responding to a recent survey on gambling say they have gambled in the past year and that they believe gambling generally has a positive impact on the state. However, 1 percent of those surveyed said they had borrowed money to gamble.
The Iowans were part of the FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) Poll, a survey of 632 randomly selected Iowans' attitudes about gambling and the family. The poll was conducted by Glenn Roberts, longtime head of The Iowa Poll at the Des Moines Register. Following are some results of the survey:
- A majority of Iowa adults (68 percent) have gambled in the past 12 months (including the lottery). More men (71 percent) have gambled than women (65 percent). Among those ages 18 to 69, seven of 10 are gamblers. But less than four out of 10 among those 70 years and older gamble.
- Seventy-three percent of Iowans with annual incomes of $50,000 or more gamble, while 57 percent of those with annual incomes of $15,000 gamble.
- Iowans say the main reason others gamble is for "entertainment" (59 percent), while "winning money" is second (53 percent). Only 20 percent cite "compulsion" as a reason. When asked why they personally gamble, 73 percent of Iowans cited "entertainment" as the main reason. Thirty-two percent cited "winning money". Fourteen percent said they gambled to "meet people." No one listed "compulsion" as a reason.
- Most Iowa gamblers (67 percent) said they had spent less than $100 out-of-pocket on gambling in the last 12 months, while 16 percent spent $300 or more. Only 1 percent of Iowa gamblers said they had borrowed money to gamble.
- Less than 1 percent of Iowa gamblers have sought help for themselves for gambling problems, while 2 percent say they have sought help for someone in their family.
- Generally, Iowans feel that gambling has a positive economic impact on the state, with the exception of one area -- small business development. About 70 percent of Iowans feel that gambling has the highest positive impact on employment and tourism.
- Gambling has a high negative effect on low-income families according to 77 percent of Iowans surveyed, on children under 18 according to 60 percent, and on families with children according to 60 percent. Forty-eight percent of Iowans felt that gambling positively affects Native Americans, while 25 percent believed there was a negative impact.
- The one-third of Iowans who had not gambled in the last 12 months gave mixed reasons for not doing so, 35 percent said they "can't afford it;" 33 percent said they "oppose all gambling;" 34 percent said they had "no interest;" and 13 percent said they don't gamble because "it's harmful to family or compulsive."
- Women are more likely to oppose gambling (37 percent) than men (25 percent). Opposition is highest among those 30 years of age or older (approximately 40 percent). Only 11 percent of those 18 to 29 years old oppose gambling.
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