One in 30 Maryland residents is a problem gambler, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The label refers to someone who is, according to substance abuse experts, at risk to become a gambling addict. The conclusions were drawn from a study conducted by phone by the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (MIPAR) of the University of Maryland Baltimore County in collaboration with the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy.

“The study helps us understand the extent of problem and pathological gambling in Maryland prior to the opening of casinos in Maryland in 2010,” said Dr. Tom Cargiulo, Director of the Maryland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration, in a statement. “The results will help us design the next steps directed towards preventing and treating gambling disorders.”

A person with a gambling problem is defined by the state officials as someone who experiences gambling-related difficulties that are substantial but less severe than those experienced by pathological gamblers. In other words, they lose more money than they can afford and have a difficult time stopping the gambling behavior.

According to the report, almost 90 percent of Maryland households have gambled in their lifetime with 21.9 percent of the state’s households gambling monthly and 15.3 percent of the households gambling weekly .

This was a key study on the threshold of the legalization of slot machines in the state. The study analyzed different kinds of gambling options to see which were more prevalent, and where, in Maryland. Judith Shinogle, Ph.D., of MIPAR, says it was important to know this so the state could decide where casinos should be located.

“It is important to understand that the baseline study determines the geographic regions where Marylanders gambled prior to the implementation of slots,” said Shinogle in a statement. “Replication surveys are needed in approximately four years to determine whether the implementation of slots can be associated with any subsequent changes in problem gambling behaviors and negative social impacts.”