A New Chapter In Gambling Research

Welcome to the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders and the first edition ofIssues & Insights. Here we’ll keep you updated on the latest issues and research on gambling disorders and related topics, including feature posts from some of the leading researchers in this field. For this inaugural edition, we’re reflecting on a new chapter for both the Institute and the field of research on gambling disorders.

In 1996, when I was appointed the executive director of theNational Center for Responsible Gaming(NCRG)—the organization that provides the Institute’s funding—our understanding of why some people develop a gambling addiction was very limited. To remedy this knowledge gap, we launched the first competitive grants program for research on the disorder. At our first review meeting, Dr. Jim Langenbucher of Rutgers University, a member of the distinguished peer review panel, likened the field of gambling research to the “Wild, Wild West” and recommended a grants program that welcomed all types of investigations, from studies of the genetics of gambling disorders, to drug trials, to public health research.

The infusion of money, the openness to a wide range of topics and a commitment to the most rigorous scientific standards have created a burgeoning field that continues to expand thanks to the work of scientists around the world. NCRG-funded grants awarded through the Institute have yielded the publication of more than 150 articles in influential, peer-reviewed journals. We’re proud that the NCRG and Institute have played a role in launching the gambling research field.

After 13 years of grant-making, the NCRG decided that sustained focus on key issues should be the next step to promote seminal research. Consequently, we restructured and renamed the Institute (formerly the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders) to support the newNCRG Centers of Excellence in Gambling Research, which currently are located at Yale University and the University of Minnesota. The centers will zero in on basic issues such as how to identify young adults at risk for disordered gambling and what factors affect treatment outcomes. Although we have retooled our funding strategy to better meet the needs of a changing research landscape, our commitment to the highest standards and to the ultimate goal of effective prevention and treatment remains paramount.

Those familiar with the NCRG and the Institute may be asking, why the name change? Like our refocused grant-making strategy, our new moniker also has a direct correlation with the changing research landscape. The new name, Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders, reflects recent research that questions the term “pathological gambling” as used in the American Psychiatric Association’sDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV). This diagnostic code does not provide for the levels of severity of disordered gambling behavior that have been observed in research and in clinical practice. The new name better conveys this concept and, as such, more accurately reflects the conditions of the individuals we hope will be helped by our research and programs.

I hope you’ll continue to visit us atwww.gamblingdisorders.orgfor updates on our research and education programs, as well as new editions ofIssues & Insightsand our other publications.

Christine Reilly Executive Director, Institute for Research on Gambling DisordersIssues & Insights