National Center For Responsible Gaming Grant Awards Exceed One Million Dollars With Support For New Scientific Studies On Problem And Underage Gambling

Dec 29, 1997

Kansas City, Missouri—Grant awards announced today by the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) totaling $989,437 bring the organization’s total awards for 1997 to $1.3 million. The new grants made by NCRG support wide-ranging research in the three critical areas of study on problem and underage gambling: epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, and neuroscience.

Christine Reilly, executive director of the National Center for Responsible Gaming, said the most recent awards broaden the scope of research on problem and underage gambling to ensure full study of the subject. ‘We will now have work being pursued in all the critical disciplines to help us establish fundamental, cornerstone research in the areas of problem and underage gambling.’

Harvard Medical School received a two-year grant of $465,069 to continue its groundbreaking epidemiological research on the prevalence of disordered gambling behavior. ‘The Harvard Gambling Resource Project’ builds on research conducted for a recently completed NCRG-supported meta-analysis of past prevalence studies, and will produce a dynamic database of information about rates of problem gambling.

The Harvard meta-analysis was the first of its kind conducted in the area of problem gambling research. Using recommendations from this study, the board of the Center approved the establishment of a national symposium on developing quality protocols for prevalence studies.

The Harvard Gambling Resource Project will enable researchers, policy-makers and the public to access the most reliable and precise estimates of the prevalence of gambling-related phenomena. It will also disseminate information on cutting-edge research via the Internet, a weekly fax newsletter and periodic technical reports.

NCRG grants totaling more than $110,000 will focus on understanding the dynamics of underage gambling. NCRG awarded a grant of $57,339 to the Minnesota Institute of Public Health, Anoka, Minnesota, which will support a study of the ‘Psychosocial and Behavioral Factors Associated with Problem Gambling by Youth.’ A grant of $56,410 was directed to the University of Minnesota to examine whether or not adolescents involved in gambling experience the same ‘maturing-out’ process as young people involved in alcohol and drug use , when they reach young adulthood.

The NCRG is also funding two neuroscience projects that will seek to understand the neurobiological basis for disordered gambling behavior. As argued by the Harvard prevalence study, research that identifies biological markers for the disorder can provide a much-needed ‘gold standard’ against which the accuracy of screening instruments can be measured.

A grant of $76,360 to the University of New Mexico will support the use of neuroimaging instruments, such as the MRI scan, to study the brain activity of pathological gamblers while they gamble. The University of Minnesota will use an NCRG grant of $ 53,374 to conduct a double-blind trial to study the effectiveness of the drug naltrexone with pathological gamblers. Naltrexone has been used effectively in various psychiatric disorders characterized by excessive urges and loss of behavioral control, including alcoholism and bulimia.

Other recipients of grants include:

Addiction Research Foundation, Toronto, Canada, $ 33,748 for ‘Cognitive Biases in Problem Gambling.’ The project will compare the cognitive processes of problem gamblers with those of social gamblers to see if distorted thinking is at the root of the disorder.

Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada, $140,499 for ‘Cognitive Treatment of Pathological Gambling.’ Pathological gamblers will be treated with a therapy designed to help individuals change behavior by modifying their thoughts. In the case of this disorder, the therapy will focus on changing the disordered gambler’s erroneous notion of randomness.

University of Calgary, $106,638 for ‘Critical Dimensions of Relapse in Pathological Gambling.’ The study will follow problem gamblers in treatment for a year to better understand the phenomenon of relapse, a subject that has received little attention from researchers. The findings of this study will have important implications for theory and treatment.

Earlier this year, the NCRG awarded two additional scientific research grants. The Foundation for Clinical Neuroscience Research and Education, Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio, received $120,000 to fund a two-year study that will use brain imaging and blood samples to determine if there is a biochemical basis for compulsive gambling.

The City of Hope National Medical center in Duarte, California was awarded a grant of $160,000 to support a two-year study in which researchers will look at DNA samples from pathological gamblers to examine possible genetic abnormalities in an effort to determine whether a particular gene predisposes some individuals to compulsive gambling.

Maj. General Paul A. Harvey, chairman of the NCRG Board, also announced the recent appointment of new four members to the Advisory Board, a scientific body that counsels the NCRG’s governing board on funding priorities and individual grant awards. The new members are:

Richard I. Evans—Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, University of Houston

Frederick Goodwin, M.D.—Director of the Center on Neuroscience, Medical Progress and Society at George Washington University

Barry Kosofsky—Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School

Alan Marlatt, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington, Seattle

General Harvey said, ‘The new members are all leaders in the field of mental health research and will bring the highest commitment to excellence in scientific research to the work of the NCRG.’

These appointees will join Advisory Board members Robert Boswell, Executive Vice President of Pioneer Healthcare, Inc.; Elizabeth George, Executive Director of the Minnesota Council on Compulsive Gambling; and Sue Giles, Director of the Addiction Technology Transfer Center of the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Established in 1996, the NCRG is the first national organization devoted exclusively to funding research on problem and underage gambling. The NCRG, affiliated with the University of Missouri, Kansas City, is a division of the Gaming Entertainment Research and Education Foundation (GEREF). In addition to supporting the NCRG, GEREF’s mission is to raise awareness through education and to develop and promote programs for the prevention and treatment of problem and underage gambling.