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$1 Million Awarded to Study Gambling Disorders13 September 2006
On September 6, 2006, the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders announced that $1 million in new research grants had been awarded to eight universities including the University of Michigan. The grants, awarded on behalf of the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG), bring the organization's total dollar amount awarded since 1996 to nearly $10 million.
Recipients of the eight new grants were selected by the Institute's peer review panel, a group of distinguished researchers in the field of addictions, appointed annually by the Institute to select the research grant awards. The panel reviewed 40 grant proposals submitted in response to three requests for applications. Of the eight grants awarded, three projects focus on neuroscience, three are incentive projects providing seed money to new investigators entering the field of pathological gambling research, and two are translational projects, supporting research that can be applied to prevention and intervention strategies.
"Supporting high quality scientific research is crucial to understanding the drivers behind not only gambling disorders, but all addictive disorders," said Phil Satre, chairman of the NCRG and former chairman and CEO of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. "And with every grant awarded by the NCRG and the Institute, we are one step closer to improved methods of diagnosis, intervention, treatment and addiction prevention."
The following studies were awarded funding:
Donald W. Black, M.D. from the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa received a $172,500 grant to study how disordered gamblers differ from non-problem gamblers in executive function, attention, and impulsivity and how these deficits influence poor decision-making and the development of gambling disorders.
Brett A. Clementz, Ph.D. from the University of Georgia was awarded $167,088 to compare the brain activity of healthy gamblers and disordered gamblers while engaging in behavioral tasks of decision-making.
Jacob Linnet, Ph.D. from the Arhaus University Hospital in Denmark was awarded $149,185 to investigate the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in pathological gambling and its relationship with the distorted thinking characteristic of gamblers who continue to place wagers despite mounting losses and adverse consequences to their personal lives.
Edward Gottheil, M.D., Ph.D. from the University of Washington was awarded $172,500 to explore whether the cues and motivations of disordered gamblers are always the same or if they vary between different types of gambling. The study will also consider the relationship between gambling and alcohol use.
Anne Helen Skinstad, Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and the Prairielands Addiction Technology Transfer Center was awarded $168,941 to conduct a national survey of gambling treatment professionals and develop a strategy for creating an evidence-based curriculum for delivery to gambling treatment professionals.
Shelly B. Flagel, Ph.D. from the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan received $56,197 to experiment with an animal model for pathological gambling that addresses both the impulsivity and risk-taking dimensions of the disorder by studying rats selectively bred on the basis of a novelty-seeking trait.
Catharine A. Winstanley, Ph.D. from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center was awarded $57,500 to investigate the viability of an animal model of gambling behavior that will provide insights into the neural and neurochemical basis of gambling disorders.
Anna E. Goudrian, Ph.D. from the University of Missouri was awarded $57,436 to examine changes over time in gambling patterns, as well as the incidence of at-risk gambling and gambling problems, in a four-year longitudinal study of 2,400 college students.
Few industries take the time, and make the commitment to addressing associated problems the way the gaming industry does. Through an ongoing commitment to research, the industry is leading the way toward greater knowledge and understanding of addictive personalities, which should help in the treatment of addictive disorders in the future. The gaming industry should take pride in these efforts, and everyone involved in the industry should make every effort to ensure that gaming is a fun entertainment option for customers, and that addictive behaviors are kept in check.
In this regard, a true gaming industry leader has been Harrah's, through a program named "Operation Bet Smart". Operation Bet Smart is a program designed to formally train employees about the importance of responsible gaming and the policies and procedures of responsible gaming programs, and to encourage employees to send customers who need help to an appropriate source of assistance.
Problem gambling, like other addictive behaviors, requires help from trained professionals to properly be treated. Through the industry's ongoing research funding, and through proactive involvement with customers to encourage them to get assistance, when needed, the gaming industry is a model industry of responsible corporate citizenship.