Sen. George Mcgovern To Keynote 6th Annual NCRG Conference

Sessions to Focus on Effective Public Health Approaches to Disordered Gambling

Oct 24, 2005

Washington, DC—Former senator, ambassador and presidential candidate George McGovern will explore the delicate balance between the rights of the individual and the responsibilities of government and industry in a free society during his keynote address at the 6th annual National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) Conference on Gambling and Addiction. McGovern’s keynote, Freedom of Choice and Addiction, will draw on his experience as a public policy leader and also as the parent of a child lost to addiction.

The keynote features prominently in this year’s conference, themed Finding Common Ground on Prevention, Treatment and Policy. Providing a comprehensive examination of international responsible gaming issues from a public health approach, the conference will be held Dec. 7-8, 2005 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

“The ongoing challenge of promoting responsible gaming is developing a strategy that prevents and reduces gambling-related harm while respecting the rights of individuals who safely engage in recreational gambling. Senator McGovern’s unique perspective and considerable knowledge of the public health system will provide a thought-provoking look at this dichotomy,” said Dennis Eckart, chairman of the NCRG. “His passion for addressing addiction issues and direct involvement in improving treatments are an inspiration to us all, and we are honored to have him with us at this year’s conference.”

The NCRG’s annual conference offers a unique opportunity for representatives from the gaming industry and government to interact with the world’s leading scientific and clinical professionals. In addition to the McGovern keynote and other plenary sessions, the conference features two distinct conference tracks aimed at examining advances in research and treatment, as well as practical applications for research.

The Scientific and Clinical track is co-sponsored by the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders, a program at the Division on Addictions at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

Led by distinguished addictions researchers and clinicians, the Scientific and Clinical track will present new research findings on a variety of topics including new empirical evidence for the value of self-help groups and recent research from a multi-site study of drug treatment for disordered gamblers. With growing evidence of a common, underlying syndrome for all addictions, the sessions also will put pathological gambling within the context of related addictive and psychiatric disorders. Featured speakers include Alex Blaszczynski, Ph.D., chair in psychology, School of Psychology, University of Sydney and head of the Department of Medical Psychology at Westmead Hospital; G. Alan Marlatt, Ph.D., C.A.S., professor of psychology, University of Washington, Seattle; Howard Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S., associate professor of psychology in psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and director, Division on Addictions, Cambridge Health Alliance; Anne Helene Skinstad, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health, University of Iowa and program director, Prairielands Addiction Technology Transfer Center.

Using a practical, “nuts and bolts” approach, the Government and Industry track sessions will include a discussion of myths about gambling disorders that prevent the development of effective programs and provide concrete examples of how research can inform responsible gaming initiatives such as self-exclusion programs, employee education and evaluation of state-supported gambling treatment programs. The track also will feature sessions on the theory that gaming machines can be reconfigured to protect gamblers from excessive play and the potential for collaboration among the disparate stakeholders concerned with gambling using examples from responsible drinking initiatives.

Government and Industry track presenters will represent tribal gaming, commercial casinos, academia, regulatory commissions, public health and government, and include Ralph Blackman, president and CEO, The Century Council; Norman DesRosiers, commissioner, Viejas Tribal Gaming Commission; Alan Feldman, senior vice president, public affairs, MGM MIRAGE; Don Feeney, research and planning director, Minnesota State Lottery; Connie Jones, director of responsible gaming, International Game Technology; and Kevin Mullally, executive director, Missouri Gaming Commission.

“The expansion of legalized gambling on an international scale has increased interest among treatment providers, researchers, regulators, public policy makers and various sectors of the gaming industry in understanding the potential health risks of gambling,” said Eckart. “The NCRG and the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders have responded by providing a forum for these groups to address gambling as a public health concern and consider how they can minimize the potential harms of gambling through more effective responsible gaming practices, screening and treatment, regulations and public health policy.”

For a full conference program, as well as registration information,

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The NCRG, the only national organization devoted exclusively to public education about and funding of peer-reviewed research on disordered 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 $15 million to this effort, and the NCRG has issued more than $12 million in support of groundbreaking research on gambling disorders. For more information,