GAMBLING RESEARCH IN OREGON
The Oregon Council on Problem Gambling has sponsored six critical studies of problem gambling in Oregon. The first was a baseline study of the prevalence of problem and pathological gambling by adult Oregonians conducted in 1997. This was followed in 1998 by one of the first adolescent studies in the US which estimated the prevalence of disordered gambling among Oregon youth. A final baseline study in 2001 estimating the prevalence of disordered gambling in older adult Oregonians.
Also in 2001, the first replication of the 1997 adult study was conducted to document any changes in the prevalence of disordered gambling and gambling behavior in the adult population since publication of the previous study. In 2006 another replication adult prevalence study was commissioned. The timing of the 2006 study was driven by the fact that the State Lottery was adding line games to the existing Video Lottery terminals (VLTs) that previously offered only poker games.
In 2002, the Council commissioned a pilot study, of the first in the US, that investigated the potential causal implications relating to the onset of pathological gambling.
Findings from these studies indicated that the combined rate of pathological and problem gambling among adults in Oregon ranged from 3.3% in 1997 to 2.3% in 2001. The 2006 replication study found that the rate had risen to 2.7%. Using current adult population estimates for oregon and the 2006 prevalence estimates, there are between 57,000 and 97,573 adults in Oregon who might benefit from a treatment intervention. It would be the desire of the Council that everyone who has problems associated with gambling receive appropriate assistance, however, that is an unrealistic goal.
The Council, in concert with Dr Rachel Volberg reviewed available literature and determined that realistically, 3% of those with gambling problems should be expected to enter treatment each year – a range from 1,722 to 2,927 adults. During fiscal year 2005-2007 (FY05-06) the number of adults accessing treatment reached 1700. The number or enrollments crested in FY 07-08 and has since take a precipitous decline dropping nearly 40% in the following four years. In FY 03-04, Oregon was in the throes of a severe economic downturn and, as had happened at least three times since the state began funding problem gambling treatment services in 1995, the funding for problem gambling was in jeopardy. The Oregon Council on Problem Gambling was successful in aiding restoration of the full 1% funding dedicated to treatment and prevention. The Oregon Council is in the process of getting sponsorship support for a 4th Problem Gambling Prevalence Study, the first to be conducted since the Oregon Lottery began selling line games on their VLTs, to provide a current snapshot of the incidence of problem and pathological prevalence in Oregon to reassess goals.