Department of Community Health Releases Compulsive Gambling Behavior Survey

February 5, 2002

Michigan Department of Community Health Director, James K. Haveman, Jr., today announced that a 2001 statewide survey found that 4.5% of Michigan adults were 'lifetime' compulsive gamblers. This study serves as a follow-up to similar surveys done in 1997 and 19999, which produced 'lifetime' compulsive gambling results of 5.2% and 4.9% respectively. The survey was conducted by Western Michigan Universitys Evaluation Center and the primary aim was to establish a precise estimate of problem gambling among residents 18 years and older.

"This survey continues to be a valuable tool in our efforts to address compulsive gambling in Michigan," said Haveman. "Each year the results point to new areas which we need to focus our attention on such as internet and teen gambling."

This year the number of lifetime compulsive gamblers is within the margin or error or statistically the same as was found in previous surveys," said Special Assistant for Drug Policy, Jim McBryde. "We believe our comprehensive problem gambling initiatives have played a role in keeping this number from increasing."

Compulsive gamblers were broken down into two groups, the less severe problem gamblers, 2.8% and the more severe pathological gamblers, 1.7%. The survey projected that 330,421 Michigan adults were compulsive gamblers based on 2000 census estimates.

Geographically, the numbers for compulsive gamblers were as follows:

City of Detroit 11.4 %
The upper peninsula 5.2%
Eastern lower peninsula 4.0%
Detroit Metro 3.5%
Western lower peninsula 2.5%


"When problem gamblers were asked at what age they started gambling, 65% reported they did so by the age of 18," said McBryde. " This figure is up from 57% in 1999 and is a clear indication of how important it is to continue to focus our prevention efforts on young people." 19.4% of problem gamblers reported starting by the age of 14 or younger and another 45.2% of problem gamblers started between the ages of 15 and 18.

The Department of Community Health has contracted with Detroit-based Neighborhood Services Organization to maintain a 24-hour a day, 7 day a week, toll free, statewide problem Gambling Helpline. Through the Helpline, compulsive gamblers receive consultations and treatment recommendations. Outpatient treatment is available at a low cost for Michigan residents who have a gambling problem. Treatment is also available for family member of compulsive gamblers.

The department continues advertising efforts to promote the Problem Gambling Helpline. The advertising focuses on problem gambling in general, with special emphasis on teen gambling over the Internet. Recent advertisements also center on the dangers of sports gambling.

The Problem Gambling Helpline can be reached at 1-800-270-7117. The Survey of Gambling Behaviors in Michigan, 2001 can be obtained at www.mdch.state.mi.us and then clicking on "problem gambling", and "Survey of Gambling Behaviors in Michigan 2001".