Impact of tourism on gambling in the Flathead Valley
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The major purpose of this study was to determine how much tourists gamble on video gambling machines in the Flathead Valley and to produce a profile of the typical gambler in that part of the state. To collect the data for the study, 100 persons who were involved in the gambling activity were interviewed randomly during the month of August, 1991. August is considered to be in the height of tourist season in the Flathead Valley. In addition to the personal interviews, a questionnaire was mailed to 38 bar/tavern/casino owners to compare owners' responses to responses given by persons who were gambling. FINDINGS: The data revealed that, at any given time during tourist season, the majority of persons gambling in the Flathead Valley are local residents (53%) compared to 47% tourists. Male tourists tend to gamble more than female tourists while local females tend to gamble more than local males. The age group that had the most gamblers was 41-50, with age ranges 31-40 and 21-30 in second and third place respectively. Most of the gamblers surveyed (67%) were either high school graduates or graduates of a 2-year college, and 54% of the gamblers reported an income of $30,000 or greater. The gamblers surveyed stated that they do not gamble very often (62% gamble a couple times per week or a couple times per month) and that they do not spend much of their personal funds on gambling (59% spend less than $25 each time they gamble). The presence of legalized gambling apparently does not influence many tourists to visit the Flathead Valley (85% of tourists said "no"), but the overwhelming majority of persons surveyed (80%) believe that gambling is good for Montana. Most gamblers are not aware of problems caused by gambling and believe that gambling revenue should be used to decrease taxes and to improve education. other areas in which they would like to see gambling revenue be used are listed in the study. While only 15% of tourists said gambling influenced their decision to visit the Flathead Valley, 77% of the tourists reported that they believe tourists come to Montana because of gambling; and 66% of the tourists believe that at least half the tourists who visit Montana gamble when they get there. In comparing the bar/tavern/casino owners' responses to the gamblers' responses, the writer found that the owners differed in their perception of the most popular age ranges of persons gambling in their establishments. with regard to this question, 62% of the owners thought that the 31-40 age range was the most common. with regard to how many tourists vs , residents gamble in their establishments, 46% of the owners stated that most gamblers are local residents while 39% believed that the gamblers in their establishments were half tourists and half local residents. The owners also differed on the question regarding whether tourists gamble once they get to the Flathead Valley--46% of the owners reported that only half the tourists gamble when they get there, and 31% reported that very few tourists gamble. with regard to how much local residents gamble, 77% of the owners indicated that local residents either gamble more or about the same as do tourists.