Metro

Daily lottery play linked to gambling addiction

Researchers based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences identified 11 factors that correlate with problem gambling, including demographics.
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
Researchers based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences identified 11 factors that correlate with problem gambling, including demographics.

People with a gambling problem are most likely to play the lottery each day and have a greater portion of friends and family who gamble themselves, a study has found.

The report, based on a survey of almost 10,000 Massachusetts residents, was released Thursday at a meeting of the state Gaming Commission.

Researchers based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences identified 11 factors that correlate with problem gambling, including demographics. Blacks, immigrants, and people with less education are more likely to be problem gamblers, researchers found.

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Other “predictors” of problem gambling, defined as those who have “significantly impaired control over their gambling and the negative consequences as a result,” include being male, gambling online, and having other addictions.

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Rachel Volberg, a principal researcher on the study, said the findings will guide prevention and treatment programs.

“It’s a road map for how the state should go about addressing problem gambling,” Volberg said. “What this study shows is that some groups are at greater risk for problem gambling and that they may warrant special attention.’’

Volberg’s previous research found that about 2 percent of adults in Massachusetts are problem gamblers.

The survey, mandated under the state’s 2011 casino law, asked respondents about their health behaviors, attitudes toward gambling, gambling participation, problem gambling, and demographics. They then analyzed the data to identify factors that best predict problem gambling.

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The findings come as construction continues on two resort-style casinos in Everett and Springfield and lawmakers ponder whether to allow the state lottery and other forms of gambling to operate online.

Under the state’s casino law, a portion of revenue from slots machines and table games at the MGM Resorts casino in Springfield, set to open in late 2018, and the Wynn Resorts casino in Everett, slated to open in 2019, is earmarked for problem gambling programs. Plainridge Park Casino, a slots parlor in Plainville that opened almost two years ago, also finances such programs.

The survey, touted as the “largest problem gambling survey ever conducted” in the country, is intended to establish a baseline for comparison as casino gambling becomes more prevalent in Massachusetts.

The survey did not ask respondents directly whether they considered themselves problem gamblers. Instead, researchers identified likely problem gamblers by analyzing their answers to a dozen questions on gambling habits and found correlations with other behaviors and factors.

Sean P. Murphy can be reached at smurphy@globe.com.