April 4, 2024 3 min read


Study Reveals Massachusetts Casinos Fail to Fuel Problem Gambling Surge

Rachel Volberg, a research professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, spearheaded the study, which juxtaposed data gathered prior to and following the inauguration of three major casinos in the state

A recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst reveals that the introduction of casinos in Massachusetts has not led to a surge in problem gambling, contrary to some expectations. 

UMass Research Shows Slight Decrease in Problem Gambling

The findings, presented to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, indicate that despite the proliferation of gambling opportunities, the prevalence of problem gambling remained relatively stable.

The study, led by Rachel Volberg, a research professor at UMass Amherst, compared data collected before and after the opening of three major casinos in the state. Surprisingly, the results showed that the rate of problem gambling actually decreased slightly from 2% in 2013 to 1.4% in 2021 among the adult population aged 18 and over.

Volberg highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on gambling behavior, noting that restrictions imposed during the pandemic reduced overall gambling activity. However, even before the pandemic, the study found no significant increase in problem gambling despite the establishment of new casinos.

Volberg explained that they had hypothesized that exposure to casinos in neighboring Connecticut might mitigate any potential rise in problem gambling. She added that it was reassuring to see their hypothesis confirmed.

At-Risk Gamblers’ Concerns Highlighted in UMass Study

The study also revealed a decline in out-of-state casino patronage, with only 10.2% of respondents in 2021 reporting gambling outside of Massachusetts, compared to 21.5% in 2013. This suggests that the casinos succeeded in keeping more gambling revenue within the state, as intended by the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act.

However, there are concerns regarding the financial impact on at-risk gamblers, who show signs of potential gambling problems but are not yet classified as problem gamblers. The study noted that the proportion of gambling expenditures coming from at-risk gamblers increased significantly, highlighting the need for early intervention and support mechanisms.

Jordan Maynard, interim chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, emphasized the importance of raising awareness about available resources for problem gambling. The study found a significant gap in public awareness of support services, indicating a need for improved outreach efforts.

Despite the overall stable rates of problem gambling, public perception of the gambling industry in Massachusetts has shifted. More residents now believe that gambling is too widely available, with 67.5% expressing this concern in 2021 compared to just 15.6% in 2013.

The study, funded by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, surveyed over 6,000 adults to provide a comprehensive analysis of gambling trends in the state. While the findings offer reassurance regarding problem gambling rates, they also underscore the importance of continued monitoring and proactive measures to address potential harms associated with gambling.


Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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