“Short Term Thrills, Long Term Bills”: Study Shows Gambling’s Disabling Influence on Financial Wellness

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Gambling is an “Equal Opportunity Addiction” among income levels.

For the three out of ten Americans who said there is gambling "all the time" or "nearly all the time" in their households, these same families have a significantly greater tendency to have lower "financial wellness," according to a new national survey by InCharge Education Foundation ("InCharge"), a national nonprofit organization specializing in personal finance education and research.

The survey, performed in June 2006, found the following significant differences in financial wellness measures between households with frequent gambling versus households with little or no gambling:

High frequency of using credit cards to pay for basic living expenses:    

Households with Frequent Gambling Activity: 67 percent    

Households with Little or No Gambling Activity: 20 percent

Live paycheck to paycheck:

Households with Frequent Gambling Activity: 40 percent    

Households with Little or No Gambling Activity: 25 percent

Must limit social activities due to financial worries:    

Households with Frequent Gambling Activity: 37 percent    

Households with Little or No Gambling Activity: 21 percent

Gambling is a significant pastime in American families today, without regard to income levels. Of those where gambling occurs in their household "all the time" or "nearly all the time," there is little or no difference in income levels (27 percent under $25k, 30 percent between $25k and $50k, and 31 percent above $50k). Similar percentages of gambling abstinence were seen across income levels (68 percent, 63 percent and 62 percent, respectively).

"Gambling problems do not discriminate – it is an equal opportunity addiction," explains Rebecca Stiehl, president of InCharge® Education Foundation, the education and research arm of InCharge Institute of America, Inc. "People with gambling problems often do it to relieve stress and escape financial challenges. Ironically, gambling will most often make these very issues worse."

InCharge works with groups like the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling to provide credit counseling services and financial education materials to those gamblers in financial distress. InCharge has initiated a unique pilot program with the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling to help address the unique needs of problem gamblers.

"Because money is central to a gambler's addiction there are very special issues that need to be considered during the counseling process," explains Pat Fowler, executive director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling. "We are very happy to be working with the InCharge Education Foundation to help develop a better solution to the unique financial counseling needs of problem gamblers."

InCharge commissions a quarterly, nationally-representative telephone survey to track the current economic and financial issues Americans face, and to measure how well consumers feel they are managing both financially and emotionally. The data for this study was collected from randomly dialed sample of 1,000 adults from the general U.S. population (500 men and 500 women), aged 18 and over by the market research firm Ipsos-Insight, during June 2006. Data was weighted to match U.S. Census on key demographics.

This is the same quarterly survey that determines the COPE(TM) Scale, InCharge's tool to assess how Americans are "coping" with their finances. More information on the COPE Scale, along with a calculator to determine an individual score, can be found at http://www.inchargefoundation.org.

For more information and a copy of the full report, entitled "America Gambles: Short Term Thrills, Long Term Bills," please visit http://www.inchargefoundation.org/research/economic-analysis/special-reports/. For more information on the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, visit http://www.gamblinghelp.org/sections/resources/gaming.html.

Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, InCharge® Institute of America, Inc., is a national nonprofit organization with affiliates specializing in personal finance education and credit counseling. InCharge® Education Foundation, Inc., publishes YOUNG MONEY® magazine and Military Money® magazine and offers basic financial management education to clients and the general public. InCharge® Debt Solutions provides professional credit counseling and financial education services to consumers and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA). For additional information, visit http://www.incharge.org.

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Linda Stayer
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