WHO BUYS LOTTERY TICKETS?

Who buys lottery tickets in Ontario? As players get in on this Friday’s LOTTO SUPER 7 $25 million Bonus Jackpot (April 4, 2003), research from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC) on the demographics of lottery players shows that lotteries are highly popular with adults from every walk of life.

Lotteries have very broad appeal with the adults of Ontario. Market research shows lottery players closely reflect the demographics of the province as a whole. In terms of education and income, lottery players really are the same as the general population.

OLGC surveys approximately 3,600 people each year on their lottery purchasing. 68% of Ontario adults are regular lottery players (they’ve played recently and plan to play again) and 28% of adults play at least once a week.

As a group, lottery players report a mean household income of $56,640 with all people surveyed reporting a mean household income of $55,450. That finding is consistent with 58% of players working full-time outside the home as compared to 53% of all those surveyed report working full-time. In terms of education, 27% of lottery players have completed community college compared to 26% of the general population. A slightly higher portion of the general population reported having completed university (30% to 35% of players). Thailand Lottery Tickets and Casino – เว็บตรง ไม่ผ่านเอเย่นต์ 

If won, this week’s $25 million SUPER 7 jackpot would be the second- largest prize ever awarded on this game. Tickets for the draw are available at more than 7,800 retail locations throughout Ontario until 9:00 PM, Friday, April 4, 2003. It is a provincial offence, punishable by fines, to sell OLGC lottery tickets to anyone under 18 years of age.

It’s just a game. Play responsibly.

PROBLEM GAMBLING RISING AS OUTLETS AND ACCESS GROW

Western New York has all the trappings of a bettor’s paradise – professional sports teams, casinos, plenty of off-track betting parlors, easy access to the state lottery.

It’s all fun and games – until it becomes a losing habit. Worse is when it descends into an addiction, draining money earmarked for utilities, car payments and food, and driving away friends and relatives.

That problem appears to be rising in Western New York. Clinicians at Jewish Family Service, which runs the area’s only gambling treatment program, say they’ve received more calls for help since the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls opened New Year’s Day than they’ve had in any previous three-month period.

Most of the 75 people seeking assistance were already having trouble from gambling at Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls, Ont. But the new casino made it easier for them to feed their vice, said Dr. Renee Wert, who counsels compulsive gamblers at Jewish Family Service.

They hoped Seneca Niagara Casino would bail them out of the debts created while playing across the border, seeing more gambling as a possible solution to the issues they already had.

“They thought their luck would change at a new place, but of course it didn’t,” Wert said.

With the frenzy of the NCAA basketball tournament – on which betting, legal and illegal, far surpasses that of wagers on the Super Bowl – still hanging over the area while Syracuse University celebrates its win, gambling is on the minds of many.

But according to surveys of compulsive gamblers in the area, sports betting is low on their list of favorites. Casino gambling ranks first among addicts in the area, followed by the lottery, OTB and then sports, according to Jewish Family Service.

At the same time, a shift is occurring nationally in the patterns that historically described problem gamblers, said George McClellan, a gambling expert who works in campus life at the University of Arizona and is chairman of a gambling task force for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Female problem gamblers used to stick almost exclusively to “escape gambling” like slot machines and the lottery, but now they’re stepping up to the roulette wheels and blackjack tables, the “prestige” games that used to be solely the province of men.

But all people prone to gambling problems share qualities, including compulsiveness, self-esteem problems and poor-coping mechanisms, he said.

Usually, the troubles start young. About 35 million young teens are addicted to gambling, according to a 1999 Harvard Medical School study.

Ken, 39, a recovering gambling addict who agreed to speak only if his last name was not revealed, was one of them. The Buffalo man’s addiction began in high school, with card games among friends, then progressed to sports betting, when he would toss down a few hundred dollars a week on football games.

When he won, he rolled his winnings right over into new bets. When he lost, he scrambled to wager more money, stringing his football season debts into basketball play.

The cycle continued for 12 years. He stayed up all night, watching the midnight games he had bet big money on despite knowing nothing about the teams playing. He couldn’t pay his bills, so he just waited for bill collectors to call before facing his debts. His fiancee told him she would leave him if he didn’t quit.

But only when he threatened to shoot his bookie – even though he never had owned a gun – did he realize he had a problem.

Receiving treatment and attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings for about two years, he now knows what his triggers are, so he doesn’t read the sports pages or watch any sports on TV except Bills games.

“Gambling is everywhere, especially around here,” he said. “How can you not think about it? Fear is the only real motivation to stay away – I have to think about how bad it was when I was playing.”

Despite Buffalo’s proximity to casinos and pro sports venues, the biggest concern, addiction counselors say, is the growth of Internet gambling, an industry that experts estimate generated more than $6 billion in global sales last year. The sites are illegal but are usually run ut of the Caribbean and Central America, where U.S. law enforcement rarely reaches.

The danger of gambling on the Net, Wert said, is that it brings the opportunity right into people’s homes. And for someone who’s prone to gambling troubles, the temptation is just too great to resist.

“Casinos are these clockless, windowless places where you play with fake money. It’s not like real life at all,” McClellan said. “But the Internet is even worse – you can get totally sucked in, for hours, days.”

Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban credit card companies and banks from processing customers’ gambling transactions, and a similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.

That legislation follows a trend started in the financial community itself – Visa, MasterCard and Citibank already had halted their business with gambling Web sites.

The cost of treatment

Once compulsive gamblers acknowledge their problems, paying for treatment can sometimes aggravate their problems. Under most health insurance policies, gambling addiction treatment is classified as a mental health problem, and there’s usually a cap of 20 or so counseling visits per year, with co-pays of up to 50 percent, Wert said. Substance abuse treatment programs, however, generally allow for more paid visits – as many as 60 per year.

“If you’re a gambler who’s really far in debt, you probably can’t afford those bigger co-pays, and you may need more visits than are paid for under your plan,” she said. “That can really keep people from getting treatment.”

People with casino gambling troubles have the option of trying to control their impulses through a casino’s “self-exclusion” list, which would bar them from coming back to that particular casino.

At least six states have laws requiring casinos to offer such a list, but experts say they often don’t work because people’s motivations for signing up aren’t pure. They’re frequently forced to sign up by concerned family members, only to disguise themselves and return.

The Seneca Niagara Casino plans to institute such a plan eventually, and its also contracted with the New York State Council on Problem Gambling to train staffers to recognize the signs of compulsive gambling and remove problem players from the gaming area, said Mickey Brown, who runs the casino.

Casino management plans new advertisements that will include the state’s problem gambling hotline number – (800) 437-1611 – and cautionary tag lines like, “Gamble with your head, not over it.”

“A dealer doesn’t want a problem gambler at his table any more than a bartender wants a drunk at the bar,” Brown said, adding that casino staffers have removed about a half dozen problem gamblers from the gaming floor since the casino opened. “It makes everyone from the patrons to the dealer uncomfortable, and it puts the gamblers themselves in a terrible position. We don’t want to be responsible for that.”