Iowa State University
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Iowa State University

Beverly Crabtree, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, (515) 294- 5980
Maurice MacDonald, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, (515) 294-1983
Glenn Roberts, Glenn Roberts Research, (515) 276-7002
Michelle Johnson, News Service, (515) 294-8986


AMES, Iowa -- In a statewide poll, Iowans say they think gambling has had a positive impact on the state's economy, with one important exception. They are split on whether gambling has been good for small business development, with 30 percent saying it has been negative for small business and 29 percent saying it has been positive.

There is no such split on the issues of tourism and employment opportunities. About 70 percent of those polled think gambling has had a positive impact on these areas.

When asked about gambling's impact on groups of Iowans, respondents were generally negative. They indicated that gambling had a high negative impact on low income families (77 percent), children under 18 (60 percent), and families with children (60 percent). Only Native Americans were seen as being positively affected by gambling, although the responses were mixed. Forty-eight percent said Native Americans were positively impacted by gambling, and 25 percent said it had a negative impact.

The data is part of a poll on gambling and the family conducted for Iowa State

University's College of Family and Consumer Sciences by Glenn Roberts, Glenn Roberts Research, Des Moines. The results were presented at a conference on gambling and the family, Thursday, Oct. 31.

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

Most Iowa gamblers said they spent less than $100 out of pocket on gambling in the past year. Looking at average amounts spent gambling in the past 12 months, which were best estimates based on recall, the 50 to 69 year old age group spent the most, an average of $352. Families with no children spent significantly more than families with children (an average of $284 compared to an average of $198) and Iowans with a yearly income of more than $50,000 spent about 50 percent more than those with incomes under $15,000 a year.

Only 1 percent of Iowa gamblers say they have borrowed to gamble, and less than one percent have sought help related to gambling for themselves, although 2 percent have asked for help for someone else in the family with a gambling problem.

What do Iowans give up to gamble? Entertainment is the one area they admit to cutting back, with 14 percent saying they have cut back some. There are some hints that Iowa gamblers are giving up household budget items to provide money for gambling. "Eating Out," "Savings," "Vacations," "Clothing," "Beer or liquor" and "Groceries" are mentioned by 15 to 18 percent, although they admit to only giving up "very little" in these areas to gamble.