$380,466 In New Research Grants Awarded To Study Gambling Disorders

Dec 20, 2010

BEVERLY, MASS.—The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) announced today it has awarded $380,466 for new project grants in 2010 to support five new research projects. The NCRG grants are awarded by the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders (Institute), an independent program of the NCRG charged with managing all of the its grant-making responsibilities. The NCRG seeks to advance understanding of gambling disorders through the support of rigorous scientific research and public education and awards grants in three categories: Exploration Grants (up to $5,000 for one year), Seed Grants (up to $25,000 for one year) and Large Grants (up to $75,000 per year for two years).

“The project grants program is designed to increase the number of researchers working in the field, encourage new investigators to explore gambling disorders and foster multidisciplinary collaboration,” said Christine Reilly, executive director of the Institute. “These new research grants will support our mission to improve methods of prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment and also will help to increase our understanding of the drivers behind not only gambling disorders, but all addictive disorders.”

The NCRG’s 2010 grants were awarded for the following research projects:

Exploration Grant

  • Yijun Liu, Ph.D., from the University of Florida was awarded $5,400 to develop a virtual Internet gambling website to be used as a simulation in a laboratory experiment involving 12 subjects who meet the criteria for pathological gambling and 12 control group members. Using an fMRI brain scanner, the researchers will seek to understand the neural pathways involved in excessive gambling and discern what is unique about the online gambling experience for people with gambling-related problems

Seed Grants

  • Scott Huettel, Ph.D., from Duke University was awarded $34,500 to test the hypothesis that whether someone makes a risky or safe choice depends not simply on preferences, but on the strategies they use to acquire and integrate new information. The researchers will investigate the information-acquisition process in real time using high-speed, high-resolution tracking of eye movements and tasks that involve incentive-compatible decisions between economic gambles. They will evaluate how factors that contribute to risk-seeking choices alter how people process new information about risks and rewards.
  • Mark R. Dixon, Ph.D., from Southern Illinois State University was awarded $34,500. Using a computerized slot-machine task, the research project will examine the brain activity of disordered gamblers through an fMRI scanner before and after Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an intervention that has shown promise for treating gambling disorders. The investigators will compare the brain scans of the therapy group with the control group to look for evidence of neurobiological changes as a result of ACT.

Large Grants

  • Matthew P. Martens, Ph.D., from the University of Missouri – Columbia was awarded $172,500 to test a personalized feedback-only intervention that will provide “at-risk” college students with information about their own behavior. This project will determine if college students participating in the personalized feedback condition will report less gambling, fewer dollars gambled and less problem gambling at follow-up than students in both education/advice and assessment-only control conditions.
  • John Nyman, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota was awarded $136,449 to study the differentiating factors between people who are recreational gamblers with no gambling-related problems and people who are pathological gamblers. The study will also determine when a recreational gambler becomes a problem gambler. Researchers will conduct an analysis of two important data sets that include gambling data: the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a nationally representative survey of 43,093 Americans and the Minnesota Twin Family Study. The study will also test the theory that, for recreational gamblers, gambling is an economic activity.

The NCRG’s competitive project grants program allows investigators from around the world to apply for funding for specific research projects. All research proposals are reviewed by independent peer-review panels of distinguished scientists in the field to ensure that only the highest quality research is funded. Funding decisions are made by the Institute’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Beyond its project grants program, the NCRG continues to support its Centers of Excellence in Gambling Research through multiyear research grants. Established in 2009, the NCRG Centers of Excellence employ a long-term, institutional approach to conducting innovative and multidisciplinary research and education. Currently, NCRG Centers of Excellence are located at the University of Minnesota and Yale University, and each of these institutions has been awarded $402,500 over a three-year period.

In addition to offering awards in these categories, in 2011 the NCRG will issue a call for proposals to develop and test an online screen and brief intervention (SBI) designed to help college students assess their gambling behavior and whether it represents a health risk. The SBI will be housed on the upcoming NCRG website,www.collegegambling.org, scheduled to launch in 2011. The call for proposals will be released in January 2011.

To learn more about project grants and research supported by the NCRG, visitwww.gamblingdisorders.org.


The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) is the only national organization exclusively devoted to funding research that helps increase understanding of pathological and youth gambling and find effective methods of treatment for the disorder. Founded in 1996 as a 501(c)3 charitable organization, the NCRG is the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) affiliated charity. For more information, visitwww.ncrg.org. NCRG funds provide grants to researchers to increase understanding of pathological gambling and find effective methods of treatment for the disorder. The funds are distributed through the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders, an independent program of the NCRG. For more information, visitwww.gamblingdisorders.org.