Iowa State University
charset=iso-8859-1" /> News Releases
Iowa State University

Beverly Crabtree, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, (515) 294- 5980
Glenn Roberts, Glenn Roberts Research, (515) 276-7002
Michelle Johnson, News Service, (515) 294-8986


AMES, Iowa -- Four of 10 adult Iowans say they have observed children under 18 years of age engaged in gambling, according to a poll conducted for Iowa State University's College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Twenty-four percent of the respondents said they saw children betting on college or professional sporting events, helping pick lottery numbers (19 percent), betting on high school sporting events (18 percent), buying lottery tickets (13 percent) and visiting casinos (9 percent).

The Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) poll, the first statewide public opinion survey on Iowans' attitudes on gambling and the family, showed that Iowans believe gambling has a heavy negative impact on the family. Strong majorities of 63 to 75 percent say that wagering has a negative impact on family finances, marriage and couple relationships and family relationships.

When asked about the impact of gambling on groups of people, more than half of the respondents said that it has a negative impact on children and families with children.

Iowans, both gamblers and non-gamblers, were united in their opposition to allowing children under 18 inside gambling facilities. Ninety-four percent of those polled said the state should not allow children inside gambling facilities. Currently, children are allowed on riverboat casinos and at dog and horse racetracks in Iowa, although they are not allowed to gamble. They are confined to certain areas of the riverboats.

One way casinos accommodate gamblers with children is to build drop-in child care centers. One such center opened last June at a casino in Council Bluffs. Another is planned for a casino in Bettendorf.

However, according to the FACS poll Iowans disapprove of child care centers in casinos. Eighty-six percent said gambling facilities should not provide child care for children of gamblers. Only 10 percent said they should.

"This poll delivers a troubling message concerning families and gambling, and particularly children and gambling, in our state," says Family and Consumer Sciences Dean Beverly Crabtree. "I think these figures will be of great interest to the public and lawmakers as they make policy decisions regarding the future of gambling in Iowa."

The FACS Poll was conducted by Glenn Roberts Research of Des Moines. A random cross-section of 632 adult Iowans answered questions during 15- to 20-minute telephone interviews. Poll questions were developed by ISU Family and Consumer Sciences faculty.

The poll has a maximum 4.1 percent margin of error for the full sample.

- 30 -

EDITORS: For additional research on children and casinos, contact Corly Petersen, professor, human development and family studies, (515) 294-7601.