Florida Gambling HelpLine Reflects the Changing Landscape of Gambling in the State

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The picture of gambling and problem/compulsive gambling in the State of Florida has changed dramatically in recent years and, as research reflects, when one changes so does the other. Throughout the 2009/2010 fiscal year, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling’s (FCCG’s) 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine responded to over 16,000 calls, with approximately 5,000 callers seeking help and information for a gambling problem. “These numbers reflect a 12% increase in calls over the past year, and a 17% increase over the past two years” says Pat Fowler, FCCG Executive Director. Calls were received from 60 of the 67 counties in the state, further indicating how widespread the problem has become.

“We expected to see an increase in callers reporting slots as a problem when they were legalized in pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, but the more recent jump in problems with this type of gambling in other regions appears to be due to the

The picture of gambling and problem/compulsive gambling in the State of Florida has changed dramatically in recent years and, as research reflects, when one changes so does the other.

Throughout the 2009/2010 fiscal year, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling’s (FCCG’s) 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine responded to over 16,000 calls, with approximately 5,000 callers seeking help and information for a gambling problem. “These numbers reflect a 12% increase in calls over the past year, and a 17% increase over the past two years” says Pat Fowler, FCCG Executive Director. Calls were received from 60 of the 67 counties in the state, further indicating how widespread the problem has become.

Change can be seen when comparing the types of gambling causing problems regionally, where 4 out of the 5 regions of the state reported slot and electronic gaming machines as the primary source of the problem, and cards and slots tying as the primary problem in the fifth region. This is a vastly different picture from just a few years ago, when individuals in most regions throughout Florida reported having problems with lottery and cards most frequently.

“We expected to see an increase in callers reporting slots as a problem when they were legalized in pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, but the more recent jump in problems with this type of gambling in other regions appears to be due to the “grey area” gambling establishments such as internet sweepstakes centers located in more rural areas of the state and in local neighborhood strip centers,”
says Fowler. These centers have spread rapidly in parts of the state where little or no other forms of gambling are available except Lottery and the FCCG reports a sudden and growing influx of calls for help with a gambling problem as a result.

Other new and noteworthy trends from last year’s helpline data include:

  • More than one in five (22%) gamblers was older adult with the number of senior female callers out numbering males 2 to 1.
  • Blackjack gamblers continue to rise as 42% of card players cited this type of gambling as their primary problem reflecting a 9% increase over the last year.
  • Internet Sweepstakes Centers were tied for fourth as a primary gambling location even surpassing bookies, racinos, bingo halls, and floating casinos in numbers.
  • Almost one third of the gamblers (30%) claimed to have lost 90,000 or more due to their gambling problem
  • One in seven (14%) earned an income that was below poverty level for Florida and over 20% of the gamblers were unemployed or on disability.

For additional data on this and other areas of the report contact: Pat Fowler, ED, Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling at 407-865-6200.

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