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NCRG Insider: Interview with Patricia Ketcham, Ph.D., CHES, about CollegeGambling.org

by: NCRG Staff | Mar 30, 2011

The National Center for Responsible Gaming launched www.CollegeGambling.org this week as part of its ongoing efforts to develop tools to help higher education institutions address gambling disorders and responsible gaming on campus.  The first site of its kind, CollegeGambling.org is a comprehensive resource to help current and prospective students, campus administrators, campus health professionals and parents address gambling and gambling-related harms on campus. The site is a valuable resource for those interested in learning more about college gambling, including information about responsible gaming for students of legal age to gamble and resources for those who may encounter problems. As a part of this launch, the NCRG sat down with Patricia Ketcham, Ph.D., CHES, chair of the CollegeGambling.org Advisory Committee, to learn her perspective on the new site.

NCRG: How did the vision for the CollegeGambling.org resource come about?

PK: It all started with the Task Force on College Gambling. The NCRG and the Division on Addictions at the Cambridge Health Alliance (a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School) began the Task Force in 2008 to examine research findings and real-world experiences in student health and university policy issues to develop science-based campus gambling policies.

At that time, the Task Force worked to combine scientific research findings and real-world university experiences to develop science-based recommendations about gambling that would help higher education institutions. We published those recommendations in 2009 in a report titled A Call to Action; Addressing College Gambling: Recommendations for Science-Based Policies and Programs. When completing that report, we realized that universities didn’t have access to tools ready for them to discuss gambling issues with their students. We first wanted to expand the resources to a unique niche – college administrators, students and their parents. Thus, the foundation for CollegeGambling.org was created.

NCRG: What was your role in development of CollegeGambling.org?

PK: The entire Task Force provided content and feedback for the site from our 2009 report and the scientific research findings on student health. We also included other information we gathered from our experiences at our various universities. We watched as CollegeGambling.org began to take shape and offered suggestions along the way. We wanted to make sure that it gave help current and prospective students, campus administrators, campus health professionals and parents the help they really need.

NCRG:  What is most exciting for you about the launch of CollegeGambling.org?

PK: For me, there are two aspects of this website that I’m very excited about. First, it is another step toward making sure that more campus administrators and health professionals are aware of the issues. In many cases, gambling problems were not on the radar for many university administrators in their campus policy issues. Currently in the United States, only 22 percent of colleges and universities have formal policies on gambling. Students who admit to having a problem sometimes find a lack of support on campus. An important piece of this resource is to simply heighten the issue on a campus level.

Second, CollegeGambling.org is the first site of its kind for students and their parents. It is a comprehensive resource for those who want to learn more about college gambling, especially discussing what responsible gaming looks like for students who can legally gamble and sharing information with those who want to know more about resources to help those who may have gambling problems. It also opens up conversations between students and parents that may not have happened before.

NCRG: What do you see in the future of CollegeGambling.org?

PK: As the body of literature continues to expand about this subject area, the website will be charged with keeping pace with progress and movement on these issues. We are hopeful that many will refer to it as a key resource in their campus communities, and will continue to find up-to-date information on CollegeGambling.org as it is available.

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Patricia Ketcham, Ph.D., CHES is the Associate Director of Health Promotion, Student Health Services at Oregon State University. With more than 20 years experience in college health, she is also a member of the Task Force on College Gambling Policies and the chair of the CollegeGambling.org Advisory Committee.

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