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Global Approach to Problem Gambling

30 April 2004

NEW ZEALAND – (PRESS RELEASE) – "At what point does gambling become problem gambling? How is problem gambling defined and measured? To what degree should the gaming industry encourage responsible gambling and minimise potential harm? Who is developing services to meet the diverse needs of people with gambling problems?"

Fifty of the world's leading authorities on gambling are meeting in Auckland on 11-12 May to tackle these questions and more at an inaugural international Think Tank.

The Think Tank brings together scientists and researchers, policy makers and regulators, service providers and socially concerned gambling industry members from New Zealand, Australia, US, Hong Kong, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Hosting the Think Tank is further evidence of New Zealand's strong international reputation in problem gambling research and treatment.

They will address a range of globally significant issues, including the definition and measurement of problem gambling; profiling problem gambler populations; best practice in public education and treatment; legislation, public policy and the role of regulators; the role of industry in responsible gambling and the perspectives and needs of specific populations, such as Maori.

Jointly hosted by the Auckland University of Technology's (AUT) Gambling Research Centre and the Gambling Problem Helpline, and funded by the Problem Gambling Committee, the Think Tank will be the first international forum of its type and its hosts have a long-term vision that extends beyond the May meeting.

Gambling Problem Helpline Chief Executive Gary Clifford says he hopes that the participants will form an international network to advance the understanding of gambling as an issue for public health and social and economic development.

"We're aiming to develop a strategy to place problem gambling on the international public health agenda. When problem gambling is internationally recognised and treated as a public health issue, we'll be able to accelerate the development of research, policies and services to meet the needs of problem gamblers and their families around the world," says Mr. Clifford.

Immediately following the Think Tank on 13-14 May, AUT and the Gambling Problem Helpline are hosting an international conference, Gambling and Problem Gambling in New Zealand - Taking Stock and Moving Forward on Policy, Practice and Research.

Leading experts confirmed to attend the Think Tank include:

Adrian Scarfe - GamCare, UK

Adrian Scarfe is the Clinical Practice Manager at GamCare. He was responsible for pioneering the first national problem gambling helpline in the UK and oversees GamCare's care and counselling services for problem and pathological gamblers and their families. He has over 14 years counselling and psychotherapy experience. A major focus of Adrian's work over the years at GamCare has been to develop an analytical approach to working with problem gamblers, integrating cognitive behavioural work and traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy. He has presented papers at several international conferences on the interplay between conscious and unconscious processes in gambling behaviour and how to engage the hidden side of problem gamblers in the therapeutic process.

Jim Westphal - University of California, USA

Dr Jim Westphal graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with BS in Biochemistry and an M.D. He completed his psychiatric residency at Stanford Medical Center. Early in his career, he worked at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Clara, and held several positions including Chief of Alcohol and Drug Services, Chief of Psychiatry, and Coordinator of the Stanford Psychiatry Residency outpatient rotation at Santa Clara. From 1994 through 2000, he was Director of Consultation Liaison Psychiatry and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Louisiana State University Medical Center at Shreveport. During his stay at LSU, he developed research interests in gambling disorders and psychiatric quality improvement projects.

He is currently Acting Director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Addiction Medicine, Coordinator of the Dual Diagnosis Training Program, and Medical Director of the Office Based Opiate Treatment Program at San Francisco General Hospital. He is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a Teaching Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco.

Jeff Derevensky - McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Professor Jeffrey L. Derevensky, Ph.D. is a child psychologist and Professor of School/Applied Child Psychology, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology; Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry; and Associate Professor, Department of Community Dentistry at McGill University. Professor Derevensky is Associate Editor of the Journal of Gambling Studies and is on the editorial board of several journals. He has testified before numerous government commissions, is the co-director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors and the McGill University Youth Gambling Research & Treatment Clinic.

Jan MacMillen - Australian National University, Australia

Professor Jan McMillen was appointed as Director of the ANU Centre for Gambling Research in April 2003. Jan previously held the position as Australia's first professor of gambling research at the University of Western Sydney, where she was Director of the former Australian Institute for Gambling Research (AIGR). She was Foundation President of the National Association for Gambling Studies (NAGS) (1985-7). Professor McMillen has conducted multidisciplinary gambling research in all Australian states/territories and overseas, with special interests in gambling policy and regulation, the study of gambling impacts and social policy. In 2001 she established a new multidisciplinary journal, International Gambling Studies, now published by Taylor and Francis. Professor McMillen has also held statutory appointments as gambling regulator on the independent Victorian Gaming Commission (1991-93) and Queensland Gaming Commission (1991-2002).

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