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Arnold M. Knightly

Problem-betting center gets funding promises

26 March 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C -- The National Center for Responsible Gaming has received $7.6 million in new funding commitments over the next five years from the gaming industry, the foundation's newly released annual report shows.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit will use the money to continue supporting peer-reviewed, scientific research addressing gambling disorders and to promote responsible gambling.

"We need the support of the commercial gaming industry," Phil Satre, the center's chairman, said Tuesday. "Without that support, I don't think we could fund this research."

As the center has become more recognized over the past 12 years, more young researchers are finding the scientific issues surrounding gaming as a way to pursue their careers.

The bulk of the funding from 2008 through 2012 comes from the casino industries' two largest companies with $2 million pledged from both Harrah's Entertainment and MGM Mirage.

In 2007, both companies gave $400,000 each to the National Center for Responsible Gaming.

Although it provides funding, the casino industry isn't involved in selecting who conducts the research or what is studied.

Grants are awarded through the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Disorders, a program of the Division on Addictions at Cambridge Health Alliance. The division is a teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School.

The center, which is an affiliated charity of the American Gaming Association, has raised more than $22 million since its founding in 1996.

Center-supported papers were published in various academic journals during 2007 including Journal for Adolescent Health, Journal for Gambling Studies, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry and Human Brain Mapping.

The center started publishing a new series of publications in May that helps put the scientific research into layman's terms. Two were released in 2007; two more are scheduled for release this year.

Satre, a former chairman and chief executive officer of Harrah's Entertainment, emphasizes that research into problem gambling helps operators better understand the industry, helps health-care providers with treatment and helps gaming regulators make better informed decisions.

There was no body of scientific work addressing problem-gambling issues when Harrah's Entertainment first started looking into the problem in the late 1980s, Satre said.

The center launched a redesigned Web site in April to expand the research findings into practical applications.

One Web-based program launched in 2007 was EMERGE, which stands for Executive, Management and Employee Responsible Gaming Education.

The worker education program, developed in partnership with Harvard Medical School, is designed to train employees to recognize problem gambling signs in customers and so employees can receive responsible gaming certification in gambling jurisdictions that require them.

The National Center for Responsible Gaming is starting to get an international flavor. Researchers from Canada and a few from Europe and Australia, have applied for research grants.

Satre said the center has been working to strengthen its relationship with regulators and researchers in Macau.

"We're very pleased with the kind of interest there is internationally in what we're trying to do," Satre said.