Institute To Play Role In Landmark Analysis Of Problem Gambling Program

Study of Missouri Self-exclusion Program to be Conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions

Nov 15, 2003

KANSAS CITY, Mo. –The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) today announced that the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders, a research program at Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions established with funding from the NCRG, will execute a landmark study of a Missouri government program that allows individuals to ban themselves from the state’s casinos.

The two-year study – the first-ever scientific investigation of a self-exclusion program – will be funded by a $297,000 grant awarded to Harvard Medical School by the Port Authority of Kansas City, Mo., and the Missouri Gaming Commission. The Institute is the only academic research center in the U.S. devoted exclusively to the study of disordered gambling behavior.

According to NCRG Chairman Dennis Eckart, the self-exclusion project is evidence of the impact of the organization and the tremendous progress in the field of gambling research.

“When the NCRG established the Institute in 2000, one of the goals was to eventually attract and encourage additional funding for research on pathological gambling issues, and now that goal is being realized,” he said. “The Kansas City Port Authority and the state of Missouri have taken a dramatic step in funding an evaluation of their Voluntary Exclusion program, the results of which will help set a benchmark for their future efforts as well as for other self-exclusion programs around the country. We are excited to play a role in this landmark project through our continued funding of the Institute.”

Under terms of the grant, Harvard researchers Howard Shaffer, Ph.D., and Richard LaBrie, Ed.D. will analyze follow-up data from a sample of the 5,000 individuals who have enrolled in the self-exclusion program since 1996. According to Christine Reilly, executive director of the Institute, their objective is to evaluate the efficacy of the program as an intervention for people who are showing signs of problems because of their gambling. The study will also inform public health officials in Missouri about where resources are most needed to address this form of addiction first recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980, she said.

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 $12 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.