New Recommendations For College Gambling Policies Will Help Fill Tremendous Void

Recommendations of Task Force on College Gambling Policies Focus on Recovery, On-Campus Restrictions and Special Events

Sep 29, 2009

WASHINGTON—For the nearly 80 percent of colleges and universities in the U.S. without a written policy on gambling, the release today of official recommendations from the national Task Force on College Gambling Policies will provide a solid, science-based framework that higher education institutions can use to fill this void. The task force was created by the Division on Addictions at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and funded by the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG).

“Research has shown that teenagers and college-aged young adults are more impulsive and at higher risk for developing gambling disorders than adults,” said Christine Reilly, executive director of the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders, which is coordinating the distribution of the recommendations report. “We hope that the recommendations in this report will stimulate dialogue on college and university campuses about ways to integrate efforts to reduce gambling problems into existing programs focused on addictive behaviors.”

The task force was created after findings from an NCRG-funded study on gambling and alcohol policies at U.S. colleges and universities showed that while all schools in the study had student alcohol policies, only 22 percent had written policies on gambling. The study was conducted by Howard Shaffer and colleagues at the Division on Addictions in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health.

The 10 policy recommendations announced today are science-based guidelines that can be tailored, adopted and implemented by colleges and universities nationwide. The recommendations (see end of document) focus on three primary areas: on-campus prohibitions and restrictions, recognition of the importance of recovery-based policies and how to facilitate them, and special events. The recommended policies and programs range from establishing a campus-wide committee to develop a comprehensive gambling policy, to making reasonable accommodations for students who may miss class as they focus on recovery, to strengthening the capacity of counseling services to identify and treat gambling disorders.

“We know from research that when higher education institutions adopt and enforce clear policies, they can be very effective in preventing students from experiencing negative consequences from their decisions around health issues and can help them learn healthy habits they can take with them after college” said Kristy Wanner, a member of the task force and the gambling prevention coordinator for Missouri Partners in Prevention, housed at the University of Missouri, Columbia. “The recommendations of the task force can help schools across the country create and establish policies on gambling that will support the entire campus community through education, training, prevention, treatment and recovery.”

The task force examined a number of factors to determine its policy recommendations, including: scientific literature about alcohol and gambling on college and university campuses; state, local and federal laws relating to alcohol and gambling; programs intended to reduce harm from alcohol and other drugs; and existing campus alcohol and gambling policies. The task force also reviewed policies on alcohol and gambling at on-campus events, such as charity and sports events, and addiction treatment and health services.

The NCRG and the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders are distributing the recommendations report to administrators, student health professionals, student life directors and other stakeholders through various professional organizations, meetings, listservs and social media avenues. The task force’s recommendations also will be featured at a breakfast on Oct. 16 hosted by the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver and in the NCRG’s free Oct. 22 webinar “Youth and College Gambling: New Direction, New Discoveries,” scheduled for 2-3 p.m. EDT. Participants may register for the webinar through the NCRG’s Web site.

The Task Force on College Gambling Policies represents a diverse range of institutions, including the University of Alabama; Bridgewater State College; the University of Denver; George Fox University; Harvard University; Lehigh University; Mississippi State University; the University of Missouri, Columbia; the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; the University of Nevada, Reno; Oregon State University; and Villanova University.

For more information on the task force, including a list of members and the detailed recommendations report,

Topline Recommendations of the Task Force on College Gambling Policies

  1. Establish a campus-wide committee to develop and monitor a comprehensive policy on gambling.
  2. Ensure that college policies are consistent with applicable local, state, and federal laws.
  3. Strive for consistency and universal application with prohibitions and restrictions on gambling and alcohol use at special events.
  4. Promote campus-community collaborations that focus on reducing problems with student drinking and gambling.
  5. Encourage adjustments in disciplinary actions applied to violators of gambling rules if the student seeks assistance from health or counseling services.
  6. Make reasonable accommodations for students focused on recovery from a problem with gambling or alcohol.
  7. Measure student attitudes, behaviors, and problems with gambling through campus surveys or by incorporating such measures into existing campus health-related surveys.
  8. Promote campus-wide awareness of (1) pathological gambling as a mental health disorder that has a high rate of comorbidity with alcohol use and other addictive disorders, and (2) responsible gaming principles.
  9. Employ evidence-based strategies to identify and help students with gambling and alcohol problems.
  10. Strengthen the capacity of counseling services to identify and treat gambling disorders.

The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) is the only national organization exclusively devoted to funding research that helps increase understanding of pathological and youth gambling and find effective methods of treatment for the disorder. Founded in 1996 as a 501(c)3 charitable organization, the NCRG is the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) affiliated charity. For more information, NCRG funds provide grants to researchers to increase understanding of pathological gambling and find effective methods of treatment for the disorder. The funds are distributed through the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders, an independent program of the NCRG. For more information,