5th Annual NCRG Conference To Examine Disordered Gambling, Potential Relationship Among All Addictions

Sessions Will Focus on Practical Applications of Latest Addictions Research; 3rd Annual Scientific Achievement Awards Will Honor Outstanding Contributions in Disordered Gambling Research

Oct 20, 2004

WASHINGTON—Health risks for casino employees, problem gambling issues among Native American communities, drug treatments for gambling and substance use disorders, and regulating gaming and its potential health consequences in a global economy are just some of the topics to be featured at the fifth annual National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) Conference on Gambling and Addiction, offering a comprehensive examination of international responsible gaming issues from the public policy, industry, legal and scientific perspectives.

Scheduled for Dec. 5-7 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the 2004 conference, themed Gambling and Addiction: Shared Causes, Managing Consequences, will highlight recent research that challenges common perceptions about addiction. According to scientists, these new findings suggest that individual substance use and behavioral disorders might be distinctive expressions of the same underlying “syndrome.”

“The concept of an addiction syndrome has significant implications for academics and health care professionals, as well as representatives from the gaming industry and government,” said Dr. Howard Shaffer, director of Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions. “Looking at the shared causes of addictive behaviors prompts us to consider new ways of studying and treating pathological gambling and related addictive disorders, which could lead to more effective treatment strategies at the clinical level, as well as better informed responsible gaming activities in the gaming community.”

This year’s conference offers a unique opportunity for representatives from the gaming industry and government to engage in dialogue with the world’s leading scientific and clinical professionals. The conference will focus on new addiction research and the implications for managing the consequences of disordered gambling and other addictive disorders. As in 2003, the conference will feature two distinct conference tracks aimed at examining advances in research and treatment, as well as practical applications for members of the gaming industry, gaming regulators, attorneys and elected officials. The “Scientific and Clinical” track is co-sponsored by the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders, a program at Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions.

“With the debut of the dual-conference-track program last year, we made significant progress in developing a comprehensive public health approach to disordered gambling,” said NCRG Chairman Dennis Eckart. “More than 300 professionals from around the world attended last year’s event, and we expect interest to be even higher this year. With the leading minds in science, government, gaming and other sectors coming together, I have no doubt the discussion and collaboration that takes place at this event will have a dramatic affect on how we manage disordered gambling at a variety of levels.”

This year’s “Scientific and Clinical” conference track will feature cutting-edge research on gambling and other addictive disorders. Discussion topics include the causes of addictive disorders; drug treatments for gambling and substance use disorders; treating co-occurring disorders; and addiction in the age of terrorism and stress. Featured speakers include Shaffer; Robert Ladouceur, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Laval University; and Lisa Najavits, Ph.D., director of the Trauma Research Program in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Program at McLean Hospital; among others.

A parallel group of sessions in a “Government and Industry” track will include topics ranging from understanding gambling and its potential health consequences to health risks for casino employees, problem gambling issues in tribal casinos, challenges of operationalizing the AGA Code of Conduct, regulating gaming and its potential health consequences in a global economy, and more. Featured speakers in this track include Timothy Hinkley, president and COO of the Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc; Peter Dean, chairman of the Gaming Board of Great Britain; and Nelson Westrin, vice chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission; among others.

Conference participants will be free to attend sessions from either track, allowing individuals to select the program elements most appropriate to their needs. Additionally, the conference will offer several plenary sessions open to everyone, featuring such topics as what genetics and brain scans tell us about gambling and substance use disorders, the history of luck in America, gambling and health in Indian Country, and more. The conference will culminate with a “Town Hall” meeting providing a forum for discussion among all attendees. Featured plenary speakers include T. Jackson Lears, Ph.D., the Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University; Spero Manson, Ph.D., professor in psychiatry and head of the Division of American Indian and Alaska Native Programs at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center; Charles Wellford, chairman of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of Pathological Gambling; and The Hon. Lana Oleen, majority leader of the Kansas Senate.

As part of the 2004 conference, the NCRG will also hold its third annual Scientific Achievement Awards program to honor outstanding contributions to the study of gambling and gambling-related problems. Two recipients will be honored at the awards ceremony: The Young Investigator Award will recognize an individual for excellence in scientific contributions to the field of gambling during the first 10 years of his or her post-doctoral career; and the Senior Investigator Award will honor an investigator whose body of work has advanced the field of gambling-related research. The NCRG recently distributed an international request for nominations for these prestigious awards (visitwww.ncrg.orgfor more information). The deadline for nominations is Sept. 10, 2004.

The 5th annual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction will be held Dec. 5-7 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Visitwww.ncrg.orgto register for the event and view the full conference program.

The NCRG, the only national organization devoted exclusively to public education about and funding of peer-reviewed research on disordered gambling, was established in 1996. The NCRG supports the finest peer-reviewed basic and applied research on gambling disorders; encourages the application of new research findings to improve prevention, diagnostic intervention and treatment strategies; and enhances public awareness of pathological and youth gambling. To date, the casino industry and related businesses have committed more than $12 million to this effort, and the NCRG has issued more than $8 million in support of groundbreaking research on gambling disorders. In 2000, the NCRG established the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders at Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions. For more information, visitwww.ncrg.org.

The Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders is a program of the Division on Addictions at Harvard Medical School. In accordance with the Harvard University name policy, the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders should not be referred to as the “Harvard Institute…” or the “Harvard Medical School Institute…” For more information about the use of the Harvard name,visithttp://www.hms.harvard.edu/fa/use_of_the_Harvard_name.html.