© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stay up to date with the latest news and information about St. Louis Public Radio.

Investigative Series, Fixed Odds: Problem Gambling In America

Fixed Odds
A fixed-odds game is one in which the chances of winning and associated payouts are fixed ahead of time.

The odds may be stacked against many people who are addicted to gambling, an industry that earns billions in tax revenue each year for state governments. Of Americans with problem or pathological gambling, Asian immigrants, Native Americans, African-Americans and Latinos have gambling disorders at higher rates than whites. Military personnel — about half of whom are people of color — have gambling disorders at higher rates than the civilian population. These populations are also less likely to seek treatment for gambling disorders.

These discrepancies and their impact on communities of color are the focus of a new investigative reporting series, Fixed Odds: Problem Gambling In America, that launched Feb. 4.

The front of a tribal casino in Kansas City, Kansas
Credit Michelle Tyrene Johnson, KCUR
The 7th Street Casino in Kansas City, Kansas, owned and operated by the Wyandotte Nation, is one of five tribal casinos in the state.

The project includes in-depth reporting, investigative data analysis and stories from people on all sides of the issue. It was produced by Sharing America, a collaborative reporting project based in St. Louis with reporters stationed here and in Hartford, Kansas City and Portland, Oregon.

"I hope that people will gain an understanding that problem gambling is a serious illness. There's a lot of work to be done when it comes to treating people of color," Holly Edgell, editor of Sharing America, said. "State governments reap huge profits from taxes and state lotteries with very little money going back into treatment."

According to the 2016 Survey of Problem Gambling Services in the United States, the average amount of annual state spending on problem-gambling treatment is 37 cents per capita. Many states fall way below this. For example, Missouri spends 4 cents a year on problem-gambling treatment. By comparison, Oregon spends about $1.40 a year.

To view all the stories and explore the issue visit fixedodds.org.


  • Erica Morrison, OPB (Portland)
  • Michelle Tyrene Johnson, KCUR-FM (Kansas City)
  • Ashley Lisenby, St. Louis Public Radio
  • Vanessa de la Torre, Connecticut Public (Hartford)

Getting Help

Signs of Problem Gambling: Compulsive gambling - Mayo Clinic

Gamblers Anonymous

  • Locate a meeting near you or talk to someone right away by phone
  • Lists state-by-state hotlines

National Problem Gambling Helpline Network Helpline: 1-800-522-4700

  • Provides resources and referrals for all 50 states, Canada and the US Virgin Islands. Help is available 24/7 and is 100 percent confidential.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

  • 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance-use disorders.