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Understanding Problem Gambling Among LGBTQ+ Populations

Published: June 5, 2023

Anyone can be impacted by problem gambling. But because of certain societal factors, some groups of Ohioans are at greater risk for developing a problem with gambling. As Ohio celebrates Pride this month, it’s important for prevention professionals and responsible gambling advocates to know the increased risks and to offer resources for LGBTQ+ individuals.

According to a number of studies presented by Dr. Michelle Malkin of East Carolina University at the 20th annual Ohio Problem Gambling Conference, people who identify as LGBTQ+ are at greater risk for a wide range of addictive behaviors because of unique difficulties they may encounter in their lives. LGBTQ+ people are more than twice as likely as heterosexuals to struggle with a substance use disorder, and an estimated 20-30% of LGBTQ+ individuals have an addiction, compared to about 9% of the general population. 

Though gambling among LGBTQ+ populations has been understudied, with just nine academic studies being conducted in the last 10 years, those studies have shown that problem gambling may be more prevalent in the LGBTQ+ community than in the general population. 

One study of people who struggle with problem gambling found that about 20% identified as LGBTQ+ and, according to Dr. Malkin, there is some evidence that women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or queer both participate in gambling and experience a problem with gambling at higher rates than heterosexual women. 

Though further studies are needed to determine the true prevalence of problem gambling among LGBTQ+ populations, there are resources available now from Before You Bet to help promote responsible gambling practices and offer resources to those who may be struggling with a problem with gambling. Those resources include: 

  • The Quiz: This problem gambling screening quiz is not a substitute for a diagnosis or opinion from a medical professional, but it only takes two minutes to complete and is an easy and fast way for people to gauge their level of risk. It can be distributed in community centers and other places where people who are LGBTQ+ congregate. The quiz is also available as a printable one-pager and a pocket card
  • Problem Gambling Helpline: The trained and understanding operators at the completely confidential Problem Gambling Helpline are available 24/7 to answer calls from LGBTQ+ people and anyone who might be wondering about their gambling behaviors. Before You Bet has assembled a toolkit of resources to help raise awareness about the Problem Gambling Helpline in your part of Ohio. 
  • General Community Toolkit: In addition to the Problem Gambling Helpline toolkit, Before You Bet has also assembled a general community toolkit of resources to raise awareness about problem gambling and promote responsible gambling. These resources, which include posters, handouts, and social media posts, can be used by any community organization. 

And if you or someone you know has questions or concerns about their gambling or sports betting, never hesitate to  call the free 24/7 Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 or text 4HOPE to 741741. Help is available at any time.

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