Gambling Disorders 360°

Exploring the latest news, issues and research relating to gambling disorders and responsible gaming

Money, Money, Money: Current Issues Affecting Research, Recovery and Responsible Gaming

by: Christine Reilly | Nov 1, 2009

The theme of this year’s NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction may seem a bit simplistic. After all, isn’t winning money the currency of gambling addiction? But as the conference program shows, there are a variety of layers to this topic. First and foremost, there is new research on how people make decisions about money.  Made possible by advances in brain imaging technology, investigations of the neurobiology of decision-making will shed light on why some people make poor decisions by gambling beyond their means and continue to do so in spite of adverse consequences. But such research also has implications for all of us, especially during this economic downturn that has highlighted unwise decisions about finance.

The nature and quality of decision-making also affects recovery and responsible gaming.  Why do so many people with gambling problems, and with other addictive disorders, resist going to formal treatment? (Suurvali et al., 2008) This is a pivotal question because public health planners need direction to meet the varying needs of both people who are subclinical (i.e., experiencing symptoms but do not meet criteria for the most severe form of the disorder) and those who are suffering with a full-blown gambling disorder.  Developers of responsible gaming programs and gaming regulators will benefit from a better understanding of decision-making by, for example, taking into account how to help gaming customers make informed decisions about their gambling (Blaszczynski et al., 2008).

The economic recession has taken its toll on resources for helping people with gambling addiction and related mental health problems.  Because of diminished revenues at the state and municipal levels, funding for addressing gambling disorders has been cut or reassigned to meet other fiscal needs in several states. These budget adjustments are creating new hurdles for already-stressed treatment providers, public health officials, and community organizations.  The provision of free treatment services in some states is more important than ever as people lose jobs and access to health insurance.

Money—or lack of it—also affects scientific research on gambling disorders. Since 1996, the NCRG has provided seed money that enabled scientists to conduct pilot research that is essential to securing highly competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health, the major source of funding for research in the United States.  However, the exponential growth of the gambling field in recent years has not been matched by support from the National Institutes of Health for gambling research.    Will young investigators enter the gambling field or mid-career scientists switch their focus to gambling if prospects for funding seem limited?

These challenges require creative and thoughtful solutions.  The NCRG and the Institute are pleased to support dialogue on these issues this month as researchers, health care professionals, regulators and industry representatives from across the U.S. and around the world convene at the NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction.

References

Blaszczynski, A., Ladouceur, R., Nower, L., & Shaffer, H. J. (2008). Informed choice and gambling: Principles for consumer protection. Journal of Gambling Business and Economics, 2(1), 103-118.

Suurvali, H., Hodgins, D., Toneatto, T., & Cunningham, J. (2008). Treatment seeking among Ontario problem gamblers: Results of a population survey. Psychiatric Services, 59, 1343-1346

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