Former U.s. Congressman Dennis Eckart Named Chairman Of NCRG

Announcement Follows Record-Setting NCRG Conference

Dec 18, 2002

LAS VEGAS –The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) today announced that Dennis E. Eckart, former six-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, has been elected as its new chairman.

Eckart currently is the president and chief executive officer of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, the nation’s largest metropolitan chamber of commerce. In his new role as NCRG chairman, Eckart will serve as chairman of the board of directors, overseeing all operations and serving as spokesperson for the organization. He replaces Maj. Gen. Paul A. Harvey (Ret.), who served as the chairman of the organization since its founding in 1996. Harvey will remain on the NCRG board as an industry representative.

“I am excited to join the NCRG as the organization looks to the future,” Eckart said. “The NCRG has already provided more than $7 million to fund research on pathological gambling, and over the next few years, we will be looking to new challenges and new ways of providing leadership in the field of responsible gaming.”

We plan to establish the NCRG as not only the leading expert source of science-based research and information on gambling and health, but as a leading provider of proven educational, prevention and treatment tools. Helping to develop innovative programs to achieve these goals will be a major focus of my activities for the NCRG.”

While in the U.S. House of Representatives, Eckart served as chairman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Antitrust, Deregulation and Ecology and as a member of the House Energy and Commerce and the Education and Labor committees. Following his tenure on Capitol Hill, Eckart was a partner with Baker & Hostetler, LLP, a Cleveland-based law firm, where he remains of counsel.

Eckart’s election occurred at the NCRG’s annual board meeting held earlier this month in Las Vegas at the conclusion of the organization’s annual two-day conference. This year’s conference, “Rethinking Addiction: How Gambling and Other Behavioral Addictions are Changing the Concept and Treatment of Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders,” attracted a record number of attendees. More than 300 addictions researchers, treatment providers, public health policy-makers and gaming industry executives gathered to share insights into how new studies of problem gambling and behavioral disorders are expanding general theories about all addictions, including substance abuse. The conference was co-sponsored by the NCRG, Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders at Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions, and the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling.

In his opening remarks at the conference, Howard Shaffer, executive director of Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction, discussed how new areas of pathological gambling and behavioral research are returning the concept of addiction to its origins. He noted that recent studies using new technologies to study the brain have shown that anticipation of cocaine, money and beauty energize the brain’s reward system in the same way, indicating that the brain is the final pathway for all addictive behaviors.

“Behavioral disorders like pathological gambling allow us to observe the addictive process, unclouded by drugs or alcohol,” Shaffer said. “This new understanding eventually can result in improved prevention and treatment strategies for all addictive disorders.”

Other conference speakers discussed advancements in the addictions fields ranging from substance abuse to shopping to sex addiction. Some of the nation’s leading addictions researchers and treatment providers examined the common links between pathological gambling and other disorders and the efficacy of existing treatment paradigms in addressing current health issues. On the public health front, public health experts from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health discussed how the state is incorporating gambling issues into the continuum of services provided through state drug treatment services.

The NCRG, the only national organization devoted exclusively to public education about and funding of peer-reviewed research on pathological 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 $7 million to this effort, and the NCRG has issued more than $6 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, the world’s preeminent medical research institution.