How a Nonprofit and State Department Partnership Accomplished a Statewide Gambling Prevalence Study with the Help of Elite Research

Elite Research helped us conduct a valid and much needed study about a very real public health issue in our state. The team was able to understand our objectives and ultimate goal, and did the necessary research to build a survey that incorporated established diagnostic tools. Having these results will help us be able to go after federal funding and support to help intervene in the lives of those in our state who need help.

Wiley Harwell, Executive Director, OAPCG

In 2015, Elite Research began working with the Oklahoma Association of Problem and Compulsive Gaming (OAPCG), in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (ODMHSAS) to undertake a statewide study on the prevalence of compulsive gambling in order to best serve the behavioral and rehabilitative needs of the residents of the state of Oklahoma. To date, no such prevalence study has been conducted in the state of Oklahoma. Conducting such a study would assist the OAPCG in lobbying for additional funds and intervention resources on behalf of its residents.

According to national diagnostics, up to 1.5% of the general population in the United States is speculated to have pathological gambling problem. Within the state of Oklahoma, there are over one hundred casinos. Because no prevalence studies have been conducted in Oklahoma to date, applying the national percentage to the state’s population, it is estimated that close to 60,000 residents suffer from compulsive or problem gaming. Individuals with this condition have been found to also suffer from substance use, mood, anxiety, and personality disorders. Because pathological and problem gaming is associated with coexisting psychiatric problems and due to the concentration of casino-gaming within the state, it is considered a critical public health need. Therefore, it was crucial to understand the prevalence of this issue in the state of Oklahoma.

Once the goals and parameters of the OAPCG were clearly outlined, Elite Research began this study with a critical review of the literature and instruments available. As the field of gambling has a large body of research available, we were able to identify pre-existing, validated surveys that we could draw portions from in order to create a survey that best addressed OAPCG’s needs. Several rounds of feedback between OAPCG and Elite Research were conducted until we had an agreed upon instrument.

Once the survey was designed and tested in a pilot study, it was officially launched in a three-way methodology – through social media, telephone interviews, and online panels. By conducting a three-way approach, statistical comparisons between each form was possible. Elite Research worked with OAPCG to keep the costs down on data collection with online survey options, mail invitations, and a slower interview approach.

OAPCG Methodology

  • Minimum required sample of 2200
  • Final valid sample of 2636
  • Sample represented demographics from U.S. census data
  • 3 forms of participant recruitment
    • Telephone ABS survey
    • Social media survey
    • Online panel survey

After the data had been collected, cleaned, and analyzed, Elite Research created a report detailing the frequencies of responses by recruitment type and scoring for diagnostic categories (borrowed instruments such as the DSM-IV, DSM-5, Problem and Pathological Gaming Measure within the OAPCG instrument).

In this particular case, no high level analysis was conducted as a means to keep the costs down. OAPCG requested all data files in order to work with local university graduate students to run higher-level analysis with Elite Research as oversight.


The key factors for the client on this project were low cost and quality. Because of the ample amount of research available on the topic of compulsive gambling, we knew there were sources available to help us build a unique survey that met the client’s needs. The report was intended to be shared with the Oklahoma state department and the national chapter on problem and compulsive gambling, so quality was imperative. The client understood and was willing to patiently endure a longer data collection period in order to keep the costs lower.

About the Oklahoma Association of Problem and Compulsive Gaming (OAPCG).

The OAPCG is a non-profit dedicated to providing education and training regarding problem and compulsive gambling, increase public awareness within the state of Oklahoma about problems associated with problem and compulsive gambling, providing information about compulsive gambling to all concerned individuals, conducting research in areas related to this problem, and developing prevention and education programs for all Oklahoma residents. It is with this mission that the OAPCG is requesting a study of compulsive and problem gaming within their state in order to best serve the needs of their residents, supporting a greater public well-being.

About the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (ODMHSAS).

The ODMHSAS is responsible for providing services to Oklahomans who are affected by mental illness and substance abuse. In FY13, ODMHSAS provided services to approximately 187,000 individuals. Fewer than 5 percent require hospital care. The majority takes part in mental health and substance abuse outpatient programs, targeted community based services, prevention efforts and educational initiatives.

About Elite Research, LLC.

Elite Research, LLC is a research and statistical consulting firm based out of Dallas, Texas. This woman-owned small business provides expert support to academic researchers, government entities, nonprofits, researchers in the private sector and corporations in all facets of the research process, including the sampling, design, collection, analysis, reporting, implementation and optimization of findings. Over thirty consultants and staff provide expertise in research design, programming, analysis, data management, survey development, sampling methodologies, web-based surveys, data collection plans, technical writing, and statistical analysis. Fostering an environment of research development, training, and collaboration, our ambition is to ensure that both research and statistics are easily approachable by everyday researchers around the world.

Our Nonprofit HomepageOur Nonprofit Services Our Nonprofit White papers