There is absolutely no hard evidence to support the assertion that the economic recession has brought about an increase in disordered gambling (“Problem gambling apparently rising as recession deepens, experts say;” May 11).
In fact, U.S. gaming revenues have dropped precipitously since last July, indicating that consumers across the country are tightening their belts.
And, historically, economic fluctuations have not influenced the prevalence rate of pathological gambling. At least seven national prevalence studies have been conducted since 1976, a time period that has witnessed at least four distinct economic recessions. They reveal that, despite sometimes considerable economic turbulence, the pathological gambling prevalence rate has consistently been about 1 percent.
Also, increased call volume at problem gambling hotlines does not necessarily mean more people are experiencing problems gambling. Casinos across the country have implemented proactive responsible gaming programs, including posting advertisements for problem gambling hotlines throughout their facilities. Public awareness of the disorder – not the disorder itself – is likely on the rise.
The commercial casino industry cares a great deal about this issue, and we work very hard to promote responsible gaming among the 99 percent of the adult population who can gamble without incident. We also try to help the 1 percent who cannot gamble responsibly get the help they need. We believe even one problem gambler is one too many.
However, the notion that people are turning to casino gambling as a potential salve for their economic woes is simply not supported by the facts. And your readers deserve the facts.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
President and CEO
American Gaming Association