Following our earlier InfoPowa report on a new anti-problem gambling initiative launched at state colleges by the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, we now have more detail on the survey carried out by the University of South Florida.

2 300 students were studied at seven Florida campuses, using the American Psychiatric Association's definition of pathological gambling, which defines the syndrome as "persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behavior."

Titled "Gambling and Problem Gambling Prevalence Among College Students in Florida," the study concluded that 5.2 percent of respondents displayed symptoms of problem gambling, four times the rate of the general adult population in Florida.

32 percent of male students reported one or more problems related to their gambling.

As a result of these findings, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) has developed the program "Students Against Gambling Addiction" (SAGA). SAGA is designed to assist colleges and universities in providing essential information about problem gambling to students via resident advisors, peer educators/advocates, student athlete coaches and instructors, counselors, financial advisors, educators, administrators and other university personnel. This multifaceted program provides activities, training guides and related materials to aid institutions in developing campus wide programs. The SAGA program is presented in an easily understandable way using varied approaches to communicate the message.

"Many people don't perceive gambling among college students as a serious problem, and this perception is dangerously inaccurate. College student rates of problem/pathological gambling is four times that of the general adult population in Florida. College students who develop problems related to their gambling are often invisible until it is too late, and by the time the problem is recognized, they have already put their education and future on the line." said Pat Fowler, Executive Director of the FCCG.

The SAGA Program will provide college and university personnel with practical insight and understanding about gambling addiction, aid them in the development of programs and policies around problem and compulsive gambling, and provide hands on strategies that students and others can use to increase awareness among their peers" says Fowler.

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