Gambling on credit: Exploring the link between compulsive gambling and access to credit

Abstract

This report summarizes the findings and recommendations of a national Think Tank convened in May 2006 by the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG), with financial support from the Florida Lottery. The Think Tank followed FCCG's one and one-half day annual conference, The Culture of Gambling: Financial Implications and Societal Impact. The participants' research, experiences and recommendations related to the physical, emotional and financial effects of access to credit and compulsive gambling on individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole. In the opinion of Think Tank participants, the link between access to credit and compulsive gambling has serious implications for compulsive gamblers and for society as a whole, but is not well understood by the general public, health care professionals, the financial industry, the gaming industry, or public policy makers. The growing prevalence of problem gambling across age groups in Florida, and particularly the rise in numbers of high school and college students encountering difficulties with gambling, indicates that problem and compulsive gambling, and credit as "fuel" for the addiction, are issues that deserve a well-reasoned public policy response. The reliance of our culture on credit, and the contradiction between the real impacts of credit debt and the glamorization of gambling in the media, makes this a difficult issue. The findings and recommended actions presented here provide insight regarding the impact of access to credit on problem and compulsive gambling, and call upon FCCG and its partners to raise public and policy awareness in an effort, ultimately, to decrease the social and financial costs of compulsive gambling. Think Tank participants acknowledge that these recommended actions will be most effective if they are undertaken in a public policy environment that recognizes the multiple impacts of gambling on the residents of Florida and addresses these effects from a comprehensive, evidence-based perspective.

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