In your June 1 story, “For Maryland’s gambling addicts, new casinos amplify the ‘siren call’,” writer J. Freedom du Lac misses an opportunity to truly inform readers on the important issue of gambling addiction and instead cites outdated and inaccurate studies, uses out-of-date terminology, and conflates issues of pathological and problem gambling.
The main question Mr. du Lac raises is whether gambling expansion leads to increased gambling addiction—a reasonable subject to examine with the advent of additional casinos in the Washington area. The answer to this question, though, based on the latest in-depth, peer-reviewed studies, is a resounding “no.” A study completed recently at the University of Iowa reaffirms what research by Harvard Medical School and other institutions has shown clearly over four decades: Despite the dramatic increase in casinos over the years, the rate of disordered gambling has stayed consistently at 1 percent of the adult population. If more casinos led to more gambling disorders, this simply wouldn’t be the case. In some cases, gambling disorders may at first increase when a casino is introduced nearby; but studies show residents eventually moderate their behavior, and prevalence rates drop back to pre-casino levels.
Of course, even one problem gambler is one too many, which is why our industry—including our affiliated charity, the National Center for Responsible Gambling—spends millions of dollars to promote responsible play, teach people the odds, and offer those with gambling problems ways to get the help they need.
President & CEO, American Gaming Association