Rutgers Gambling Study Tells New Jersey What It Already Knows


The results of a Rutgers University study on gambling behavior in New Jersey released last week are proving what a lot of people already knew.

Firstly, that people in New Jersey like to gamble. Secondly, that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

The study by Rutgers-New Brunswick’s Center for Gambling Studies at the School of Social Work is claiming to be the first representative look at gambling behavior in New Jersey since the 1980s. But the results aren’t bringing much in the way of new information to the table. They contacted 3,634 adults by phone and online and found close to 70 percent gambled last year.

Problem Gamblers Abound in NJ

The rather concerning part of what they discovered was the rate of problem gambling in New Jersey is four times the national average. In fact, the study concluded one out of every 16 adults in New Jersey reports symptoms of a serious gambling problem. Gambling problem rates in the rest of the country sit at around two percent. This study came to the conclusion they are closer to six percent in New Jersey.

“For most people, gambling is recreation,” New Brunswick Center for Gambling Studies Director Lia Nower said in a release regarding the study. “But the more games you play, the more often you gamble and the more venues you frequent, the more likely you are to develop a problem.”

Another less-than-shocking conclusion, I know, but one that makes perfect sense. With casinos in Atlantic City and a plethora of gambling options in neighboring states like Pennsylvania and New York, people in New Jersey have more places to gamble within spitting distance than the average American. Heck, they can even gamble online. But that’s where there’s a bit of a disconnect.

Online Gambling Not a Contributing Factor

In fact, only five percent of gamblers in the study reported gambling online, while 75 percent went to casinos and other land-based gambling operations. A total of 19 percent of gamblers in the study said they gambled both online and at land-based venues. However, Nower said the number showed online gambling isn’t likely responsible for higher rates of problem gambling.

In other words, you can give New Jersey residents close to two dozen options for placing bets online, you just can’t guarantee the problem gamblers will use them.

There’s not much included in the study as to why this is the case. It just appears traditional problem gamblers like to gamble in more traditional ways, and there are more of both in and around New Jersey than almost anywhere else in the country.

Takeaways For The Neighbors

It’s a conclusion other states considering passing online gambling legislation might want to take note of. Especially in a place like New York, where one of the hold ups in regards to online poker legislation seems to be a concern lawmakers are making it too easy for New Yorkers to gamble already. At least they can use this study to say they aren’t creating a bigger problem by allowing people to play poker online.

There were also a number of takeaways the online gambling industry might want to take note of.

The most influential factors leading to gamblers playing online, in order, were:

  • Convenience
  • 24‐7 access
  • The comfort of gambling from home
  • Prizes such as bonuses and free credits; and
  • Use of free play or social media sites.

Or that those who gambled online listed the main advantages, in order, as:

  • Convenience
  • 24‐7 access
  • comfort
  • freedom from driving to land‐based venues
  • privacy/anonymity

Last year’s study, also conducted at Rutger’s, provided plenty of useful information about online gambling demographics in the state.

Not to say this study was a complete waste of time, but in the end, much of what was released this time around was already well known within the industry.

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Marty Derbyshire

Marty Derbyshire has been covering online gambling for various industry media outlets since 2007.

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