Where do Minnesotans stand regarding their understanding on problem gambling? The Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance recently commissioned a research study to find out. This past fall, a survey of 500 adults of all ages from across the state was conducted to provide a benchmark of attitude and awareness about problem gambling.

The study focused on a variety of topics, including gambling behavior, understanding of problem gambling, attitudes about gambling and awareness of gambling treatment. The study will allow Northstar to measure attitudes about problem gambling as they change over time, and ultimately help shape the messages communicated to the general public about gambling addictions.

“The results of this study tie in with some additional research we’ve done with focus groups,” says Cathie Perrault, Northstar executive director. “We know that Minnesotans are concerned about ‘problem gambling’ but don’t have a clear definition of what that means. This research will help us address these knowledge gaps.”

The following is a recap of key findings from the study:

Past 12-Month Gambling Behavior

Nearly eight in ten respondents reported participating in at least one gambling activity in the past twelve months with lottery games being the most common activity. Compared to those living inside the 11-county metro area, respondents living in outstate Minnesota were more likely to purchased a raffle ticket from a charity or non-profit organization and significantly less likely to have gambled at a race track.

Problem Gambling in Minnesota

Problem gambling was seen as a widespread problem in Minnesota by 18 percent of respondents. Conversely, five percent see it as not being a problem at all. Approximately three in four respondents felt that problem gambling is a problem, but not a widespread one. Survey participants residing in the 11-county metro are significantly less likely than those outstate to say that problem gambling is a widespread problem.

Problem Gambling Advertising Recall

Recognition about advertising related to problem gambling varied. Fifty-six percent of respondents recalled hearing or seeing some type of advertising about problem gambling in the last 12 months. However, seventy-five percent of those people could not recall which organization sponsored the advertisement.

Problem Gambling Assistance

There was very little awareness of organizations providing assistance to individuals with gambling problems. Sixty-nine percent of respondents were unable to name one Minnesota organization that provides assistance to problem gamblers. Gamblers Anonymous, identified by 20 percent of total respondents, was the organization most mentioned.

Problem Gambling Treatment

There appears to be solid consensus (76 percent) that treatment programs are available in Minnesota for problem gamblers. However, approximately half of these respondents could not name specific treatment programs. The portion of respondents at least somewhat familiar with treatment programs was significantly higher in outstate Minnesota (25 percent) than in the 11-county metro (14 percent). Two of three survey participants did not know that the state of Minnesota pays for treatment for individuals with a gambling problem while 87 percent did not know anyone who has received treatment for a gambling addiction.

Problem Gambling Attitudes

The vast majority of respondents (93 percent) agreed that problem gambling is an addiction similar to an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Fifty-seven percent agreed that services to treat problem gamblers exist in their community. However, just less than half of respondents (47 percent) felt that the majority of people receiving treatment achieve life-long recovery.