Gambling Disorders 360°

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

Youth and College Programs Task Force on College Gambling Policies

A 2005 study led by Dr. Howard Shaffer of Harvard Medical School found that, while nearly 100 percent of U.S. colleges and universities had policies on alcohol use, only 22 percent had policies on gambling. To address this void, the Division on Addictions at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, established the Task Force on College Gambling Policies in 2008 with funding from the National Center for Responsible Gaming.

For more than a year, task force members worked to combine scientific research findings with real-world experiences in student health and university policy issues to develop science-based policy recommendations about gambling that will help higher education institutions inform their students about the risks of excessive gambling, mitigate gambling-related harms and offer rehabilitative programs that can help reduce addictive behaviors. Christine Reilly, executive director of the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders, has been involved with the task force since its inception. The Institute is coordinating the distribution of the task force’s final report.

The task force focused on the topics of core prohibition and restriction policies, policies that recognize and facilitate recovery from addiction, and policies on special events that involve gambling to develop the 10 policy recommendations below. The recommendations provide schools with a roadmap for reducing gambling among students and enabling those who are struggling with addiction to participate more fully in college life.

Recommendations of the Task Force on College Gambling Policies

  1. Establish a campus-wide committee to develop and monitor a comprehensive policy on gambling.
  2. Ensure that college policies are consistent with applicable local, state, and federal laws.
  3. Strive for consistency and universal application with prohibitions and restrictions on gambling and alcohol use at special events.
  4. Promote campus-community collaborations that focus on reducing problems with student drinking and gambling.
  5. Encourage adjustments in disciplinary actions applied to violators of gambling rules if the student seeks assistance from health or counseling services.
  6. Make reasonable accommodations for students focused on recovery from a problem with gambling or alcohol.
  7. Measure student attitudes, behaviors, and problems with gambling through campus surveys or by incorporating such measures into existing campus health-related surveys.
  8. Promote campus-wide awareness of (1) pathological gambling as a mental health disorder that has a high rate of comorbidity with alcohol use and other addictive disorders, and (2) responsible gaming principles.
  9. Employ evidence-based strategies to identify and help students with gambling and alcohol problems.
  10. Strengthen the capacity of counseling services to identify and treat gambling disorders.

For more details about the policy recommendations, specific implementation ideas and the work of the task force, follow the links below.

View the detailed college gambling policy recommendations

Download the executive summary of the report

Download the full report - “A Call to Action: Addressing College Gambling and Recovery from Addiction”

View a complete list of Task Force members

Access bibliographic information for the peer-reviewed research used to develop “A Call to Action: Addressing College Gambling and Recovery from Addiction”