July is Minority Mental Health Month which serves as an opportunity to highlight the fact that gambling is highly associated with mental health and the high prevalence of gambling problems in ethnic minority groups.
Gambling and gambling related problems are common among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, however research suggests that gambling problems are disproportionately higher among ethnic minorities. According to research,
1. Blacks have twice the rate (2.2%) of disordered gambling compared to Whites.1
2. Native Americans have twice the rate (2.3%) of disordered gambling compared to Whites.1
3. In New Jersey, Hispanics were more likely to be high risk problem gamblers (16.2%), followed by Asians (14.1%) compared to Whites.2
Gambling is associated with mental illness sometimes as the cause and other times as the result of an untreated mental illness. Individuals with gambling disorder have been found to be 30 times more likely to have multiple (three or more) other lifetime psychiatric disorders compared to those without gambling disorder. 74% of this comorbidity precedes and may be a risk factor for the development of a gambling disorder rather than a rather serving as a risk factor for the development of other psychiatric disorders.3
Black, indigenous and people of color are less likely to suffer from mental illnesses than Whites, but they are more likely to not seek treatment than Whites 4 and people with gambling commonly avoid treatment.
Black, indigenous and people of color with mental health illnesses should
• Avoid or limit their gambling participation.
• Know the signs of a gambling problem.
• Develop a network of friends/family who do not gamble.
• Beware of drugs that treat mental health disorders that increase the urge to gamble.5
• Seek help immediately if the urge to gamble is uncontrollable.
As always, remember that HELP is always available. Text 800GAMBLER’ to 800GAMBLER or call 800GAMBLER – 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and visit www.800gambler.org for information, resources, or live chat.
1. Alegria AA, Petry NM, Hasin DS, Liu SM, Grant BF, Blanco C. Disordered gambling among racial and ethnic groups in the US: results from the national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions. CNS Spectr. 2009;14(3):132-142. doi:10.1017/s1092852900020113
2. Nower, L., Volberg, R.A. & Caler, K.R. (2017). The Prevalence of Online and Land‐Based Gambling in New Jersey. Report to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. New Brunswick, NJ
3. Kessler RC, Hwang I, LaBrie R, et al. The prevalence and correlates of DSM-IV pathological gambling in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Psychol Med. 2008;38(9):1351–1360