In advance of greater Boston casino opening, Middlesex Sheriff’s Office announces gambling survey results

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BILLERICA, Mass. – The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is today announcing the completion of a landmark data collection effort on gambling involving individuals entering the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction in advance of the introduction of casino gambling in greater Boston. The survey was launched in 2016.

The anonymous eight-question survey which garnered more than 5,000 voluntary responses over three-plus years, was developed after reviewing several existing surveys including one utilized by the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences for its 2015 report entitled Gambling and Problem Gambling in Massachusetts: Results of a Baseline Population Survey.

“Our goal is to be able to compare this baseline data with future survey results to gauge the impact, if any, of expanded gaming on our community,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “Our hope is that this information will guide law enforcement, policy makers and industry leaders in measuring the impact, but also the resources and government response needed to best position our county to ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens.”

The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) survey conducted between January 2016 – June 2019 revealed that just under 20 percent of respondents reported they gambled, compared to slightly more than 70 percent of the state’s general population, cited in the UMass report.

“With the introduction of expanded gaming in the Commonwealth, it is crucial to establish the level to which those in our custody are involved in gaming,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian, “because just as substance use, mental illness, homelessness and educational deficiencies can contribute to incarceration – so too, can gambling. Understanding who is in our custody and the underlying factors that lead them to us is critical to enhancing public safety.”

The MSO survey also found that slightly more than 18 percent of respondents indicated their most recent betting experience involved either lottery tickets or Keno, compared to approximately 1.3 percent for casino or online gambling. However, those who cited casinos (table and/or machine) as their most recent betting experience reported spending an average of $15,193 on gambling-related activities in the last year, while those who indicated lottery tickets were their most recent method of betting spent an average of $103.