09 April 2019
Panaji: Government lotteries and matka, an illegal daily lottery racket, beats casinos in terms of popularity among Goa's adult male gamblers, a study has revealed.
The study, published in the latest edition of the Asian Journal of Psychiatry, also establishes a linkage between tobacco-use, alcohol use disorders to gamblers' addiction for matka.
The study conducted by a team of psychiatrists at the Goa-based NGO Sangath, which specialises in developmental disabilities and mental health problems, is based on a sample survey of 658 adult male participants and also reveals that 49.9 per cent of the respondents admitted to have engaged in gambling, while one third indulged in more than one form of gambling.
The study, titled "The prevalence, patterns, and correlates of gambling behaviours in men: an exploratory study from Goa, India" also found linkages between gambling habits to work-related problems and interpersonal violence, among other reasons.
"Seven hundred and twenty-four (49.9 per cent) participants reported engaging in gambling behaviours at least once in their lifetime. Six hundred and fifty-eight (45.4%) participants reported current gambling in the past 12 months... one-third of those who gamble, engage in multiple forms of gambling," says the study, conducted by a team of mental health specialists - Urvita Bhatia, Bhargav Bhat, Sanju George and Abhijit Nadkarni.
"We also found that lifetime and current gambling is associated with work-related problems, interpersonal violence, tobacco use and alcohol use disorders; and additionally, current gambling is associated with rural residence," the study also states, adding that there is a dearth of research evidence on gambling behaviours in India.
The study is relevant to Goa considering the incessant debate over the perils of the casino industry in Goa. The coastal state has seven offshore casinos and around 10 onshore casinos operating from the numerous five-star resorts.
However, the study reveals that despite the steady increase in the number of casinos, gamblers in Goa still prefer waging bets on matka, an illegal form of gambling which is immensely popular in Mumbai and Konkan region since the 1970s and state-run lotteries.
The Bombay High Court bench in Panaji is monitoring a probe being conducted by the Crime Branch of the Goa Police into matka operations in Goa.
"The most common form of gambling was the lottery (67.8 per cent). The highest frequency of gambling activity was matka (39.5 per cent) with participants engaging in the activity at least once to thrice a week," the study said, stating that gambling is associated with adverse clinical correlates, of public health importance.
The highest frequency of gambling activity was matka with approximately 39.5 per cent participants engaging in the activity at least once to thrice a week, according to the study. Only seven (1.1 per cent) of the 724 respondents have gambled in a casino environment.
"From the two most common forms of gambling, it is interesting to note that matka, despite being an illegal form of gambling, was played more frequently, with majority of current matka gamblers playing more than once a month," it also said.
"Tobacco use, alcohol use disorders and suicidality and frequent playing of matka were found to be associated on univariable analysis. On multi-variable analysis, only tobacco use was significantly associated with playing matka more frequently," it further said.
The objective of the study was to examine the prevalence, patterns, and correlates of gambling behaviours in men in a community sample.
"Our hypothesis was that gambling behaviours would be associated with social problems, health problems, and other addictive behaviours," the study said.