Research Milestones

RESEARCH MILESTONES A sample of some of the most innovative studies funded by the ICRG are listed below. To learn more about other ICRG-funded studies, visit Project Grants and Centers of Excellence in Gambling Research.

Project Grants


Multidimensional Loss Chasing in Online Gambling: Considering the Importance of Optimal Cutpoints, Temporal Reference Points, and Coming in Hot for Improving Predictive Ability
Awarded $165,898
Principal Investor: Timothy Edson, PhD, Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School
The project will conduct a series of studies seeking to advance the assessment of a multidimensional definition of loss chasing in online gambling environments, using large datasets of sports gambling and daily fantasy sports (DFS) playing records. It will focus on loss chasing’s prediction of several unique and diverse harm outcomes, including (1) percent change in net loss, (2) loss trajectory, and (3) voluntary self-exclusion. The team will assess the predictive power of multidimensional loss chasing on these harm outcomes in the context of (1) diminishing returns for prediction, which could indicate a ceiling effect for the predictive value of loss chasing behavior, (2) temporal reference points for loss chasing decisions, which could determine loss chasing’s greatest predictive relationship with harm outcomes, and (3) starting gambling behaviors (aka, coming in hot), which could limit the predictive value of loss chasing behavior for some people who gamble.

A Safe Bet: Design and Evaluation of a Player-tailored Online Responsible Gambling Promotion Framework
Awarded $172,500 in 2024
Principal Investigator: Marilisa Boffo, PhD, Erasmus University
The worldwide surge in online gambling opportunities has led to an increasing upscale of national gambling regulations to promote responsible gambling (RG). Yet, scientific evidence on currently available RG tools is limited, RG tools are often focused only on players at high risk, overlook key predictors of escalation, and are poorly targeted and timed. Moreover, the limited collaboration between gambling industry and scientific
research has prevented the effective translation of scientific knowledge into evidence-based RG applications. This project is the result of a collaboration between academia and the gambling industry, with the goal of combining efforts to design RG solutions more effectively protecting gamblers across all levels of risk. The goal is to develop and evaluate a comprehensive intervention framework for online RG, delivering high-quality, evidence and theory-based RG tools to players based on their individual level of risk and pattern of gambling behavior. Our innovative RG framework combines a gambling risk assessment algorithm tracking players’ behavior on a gambling website
with a newly designed library of RG interventions to scaffold a player-tailored RG promotion model.

Examining Responsible Gambling Advertising Practices and Testing Effects of Actual Responsible Gambling Messages on Behavior
Awarded $171,957 in 2024
Principal Investigator: Seth P. McCullock, Ph.D., Cambridge Health Alliance, a Teaching Hospital of Harvard Medical School
Regulators frequently require that operators provide responsible gambling messaging within advertising and promotional materials. These messages are designed to help audience members make more informed decisions regarding their gambling behaviors. However, operator-created messages are rarely evaluated for their content and to ensure that these messages are having their intended effects on target audiences. Further, recent research has found that the effectiveness of messages could be limited by feelings of fatigue (characterized as feelings of tiredness, boredom, and annoyance) that result from overexposure to messages on a specific topic. The research team will
(1) systematically evaluate the characteristics of responsible gambling messages created by gambling operators and public health agencies, (2) collect longitudinal data from a large sample of U.S. adults to test whether exposure to these messages creates feelings of fatigue, as well as other negative cognitions, and (3) examine potential moderating factors that could influence the likelihood that people develop feelings of
fatigue and other psychobehavioral outcomes.
This project is supported by a gift from BetMGM.


Lottery Research Grant: Exploring a Lottery-promoted Gambling Disorder Screening Day Intervention
Awarded $40,000 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Debi A. LaPlante, PhD, Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School Gambling Disorder Screening Day (GDSD) is a popular public health intervention that seeks to encourage people to consider their relationship with gambling (potentially for the first time), help them identify whether they are at risk for gambling-related problems, and encourage them to change their gambling and/or seek help, if necessary. The proposed research will examine how a public lottery (i.e., Hoosier Lottery) might
facilitate digital screening for gambling-related problems. Understanding this is especially important for individuals minoritized by race and/or ethnicity due to unique barriers that could limit whether people engage and/or are responsive to screening invitations. Using a longitudinal sample of 1,916 regular (at least monthly) gamblers from the greater-Indiana area, the researchers will evaluate differences in GDSD reach (i.e., numbers of individuals screened), receptiveness (i.e., post-screening ratings of clarity, informativeness, relevance and helpfulness), and responsivity (i.e., post-screening changes in gambling behavior and safer play intentions and behaviors) for lottery-recruited and crowdsourced platform-recruited (i.e., MTurk) screening participants. This work will provide new insight into the effectiveness of GDSD as an
intervention, the role of gambling operators in promoting third-party public health interventions, and the use of digital strategies for screening, promoting positive change, and connecting to resources.
Funded by support from the Hoosier Lottery

New approaches to advance pre-commitment: Assessing whether a mandatory (versus voluntary) limit adherence feature and reward facilitates responsible gambling
Awarded $171,925 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Michael J.A. Wohl, PhD, Carleton University
The expressed purpose of pre-commitment tools is to minimize gambling-related harms by cultivating responsible, positive gambling habits (e.g., setting a limit on expenditures before play, adherence to a pre-set limit should it be reached). However, gambling operators have been challenged to spark interest in these tools as evidenced by disappointingly low uptake (only 1-10% of players use the RG tools provided by
gambling operators). In the proposed program of research, this team will build on previous findings that a hard lock option (where players cannot continue playing once their limit is reached) is more effective in reducing the number of visits and gambling expenditures over time compared to the standard, soft lock option (where players can continue playing after their limit is reached). Across two prospective studies and two experiments, we will evaluate attitudes towards pre-commitment tools, determine the characteristics of players who choose the hard lock option, and assess the real and perceived influence of the hard lock option on behavior.

Large Grant: The contribution of structural characteristics of slot machines to game immersion
Awarded $172,500 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Mariya V. Cherkasova, PhD, West Virginia University
Problematic gambling on slot machines has been linked to states of extreme immersion – or hyper-focus on the activity. What makes slot machines such an immersive and hence harmful form of gambling? This project will examine the contribution of two sets of slot machine features, termed ‘structural characteristics’ to inducing game immersion: reinforcement schedules and win-accompanying sensory feedback. The project will also examine the interaction of these structural characteristics with person-level risk factors, such as the tendency to experience negative emotional states. Furthermore, the research team will test the hypothesis that the immersion-promoting effects of these features will be synergistic and combine in a supra-additive fashion. Lastly, the project will evaluate eye-tracking as an objective and non-disruptive method of measuring immersion in real time. This research will be carried out both online and in a laboratory setting using a highly realistic slot machine simulator developed by our group. The findings will advance our understanding of how structural characteristics of gambling products combine and interact with person-level risk factors to produce gambling harms. This will have implications for product risk assessment and responsible gambling practices and policies.

Seed Grant: Computational modeling to reveal components of risky decision-making modulated by dopamine
Awarded $46,000 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Claire Hales, PhD, University of British Columbia
This project will validate and fit an established model (a combined reinforcement learning drift diffusion model) that incorporates learning and decision making processes data from normal male and female rats. The research team will then apply this model to data from rats in which levels of dopamine have been artificially increased or decreased, either through drug administration or genetic manipulations. This will allow them to answer some critical questions regarding dopamine’s role in gambling behavior, namely why certain drugs increase the chances of gambling problems, and why some people may be more vulnerable than others depending on their dopamine levels.

Seed Grant: An investigation of esports betting: Involvement, risk, and gambling-related harms among esports bettors
Awarded $43,657 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Wen Li Anthony, PhD, MSW, Rutgers, The State University, Center for Gambling Studies, School of Social Work
Esports betting is an emerging form of gambling, which combines gambling and video gaming and may be particularly attractive to younger people. This grant project will explore (1) the scope and potential harms of this new form of gambling, (2) populations who are at an elevated risk of experiencing esports betting-related harms, and (3) safer and responsible gambling practices (e.g., self -exclusion, spend limit) that could be
acceptable, feasible, and effective for esports bettors.

Behavioral Risks, Harms and Correlates of Sports Betting among young adults: Short and Long-term Associations from Bi-weekly Repeated Assessments
Awarded $172,273 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Scott Graupensperger, PhD, University of Washington
Despite strong evidence of the risks/harms associated with traditional gambling, far less is known about novel sports betting behaviors, which is a major gap in the gambling literature that the proposed research will address. This study will entail collecting longitudinal bi-weekly data (every other week for 1 year) from young adults that report past-month sports betting at baseline (N=200) to examine both short- and long-term
harms, risks, and correlates of sports betting. In particular, the study will examine the prospective direction of associations with substance use (i.e., alcohol, cannabis) and mental health indices (e.g., depression/anxiety symptoms, suicidal ideation).
This project is supported by a grant from Bally’s Corporation.

Center of Excellence Grant: Optimising Voluntary Engagement with Technology-based Tools to Prevent and Reduce Gambling Harms
Awarded $402,461 in 2023.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
Principal Investigator: Sally Gainsbury, PhD, University of Sydney
This Center of Excellence will bring a multidisciplinary lens to achieve its mission of conducting cutting-edge investigation of gambling behaviour and interventions and translating them to inform policies and practices to minimize gambling harms while building research capacity. Specifically, the center will focus on gambling treatment and harm prevention research; understanding how gambling harms contribute to social and economic disadvantage over the lifetime; how to prevent gambling and other addictions among young adults; and the role of technology in problematic behaviour. The objectives of the first three years will be to investigate low voluntary engagement with responsible gambling tools and ways to enhance this through technology-based targeted interventions for vulnerable subgroups.
This project is supported by a grant from Bally’s Corporation.

Travel Grant: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Gambling Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Veterans: A Brief Review
Awarded $1,500 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Catherine Hitch, PhD.
This grant will support Dr. Hitch’s travel to the ICBA, 2023, International Conference on Behavioral Addictions, where she will present her research on ACT.

Large Grant: Impulsivity and Online Sports Betting Behavior: Untangling the Causal Relationship     
Awarded $147,049 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Anja Kräplin, PhD, Technische Universität, Dresden
The objective of the proposed project is to apply a cross-lagged panel design to determine whether increased impulsivity causes risky online betting behavior that in turn leads to gambling disorder. Impulsivity and gambling disorder symptoms will be assessed via online experimental tasks and questionnaires in a sample of online bettors.

Student Research Grant: Relationship between Childhood Trauma and Acute Responses in Gambling Disorder
Awarded $5,000 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Sarah Brassard, PhD Candidate, McMaster University
Stress, conceptualized as a state of high negative affect and arousal, is an important risk factor for the development of gambling disorder (GD). To date, only a few studies have assessed ways through which stress predicts problems with gambling; adverse childhood experiences appear to be a prominent contributor. The goal of this research is to assess how negative early life experiences influence momentary subjective and objective stress responses in GD.
Funded by support from the Hoosier Lottery

Large Grant: Acute Alcohol Effects on Decision-making Processes in Problem Gambling
Awarded $171,997   
Principal Investigator: Iris Balodis, PhD, McMaster University.
To date, almost no studies have directly examined alcohol’s effects on decision-making in individuals with gambling problems. This study is examining the effect of acute alcohol intoxication on core facets of decision-making and behavioral control in gambling disorder. The research team will divide individuals with gambling problems into two groups using a controlled placebo design in order to disentangle alcohol from expectancy effects.

Seed Grant: Exploring Pathways to Sports Gambling and Gambling-Related Harms amoung Simulated Sport Video Game Players: A multi-Wave Study
Awarded $34,494 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Devin J. Mills, PhD, Texas Tech University
Are simulated sport video game players susceptible to sports gambling (e.g., money line bets, prop bets, daily fantasy sports) and gambling-related harms? Do safe gambling practices protect these players from gambling-related harms? This study aims to address these questions using longitudinal data from simulated sport video game players.     

Assessing Risk for Problem Gambling among Lottery Players: A Machine Learning Approach
Awarded $29,942 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Paul Sacco, PhD, University of Maryland-Baltimore, School of Social Work
For more than a decade, researchers and the gambling industry have studied and begun to implement machine learning algorithms to detect patterns of problematic gambling in online gambling venues. Little research has been done on the implementation of similar machine learning algorithms for lottery loyalty participants. This study will characterize the prevalence of problem gambling among lottery loyalty participants and test the feasibility of using one machine learning technique to identify problem gamblers on the platform.
Funded by support from the Hoosier Lottery.

Seed Grant: Using Blackjack Hand Histories to Extrapolate Players’ Strategies: Creating a Novel Simulation Program to Inform Online and Land-based Gambling Risk Detection
Awarded $34,237 in 2023
Principal Investigator: Matthew Tom, PhD, Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School
The construction of this software package will have widespread public health implications for examining gambling behavior. First, it will inform future gambling risk detection algorithms using card- by-card data (e.g., in blackjack, or poker) in the online and land-based domains. Second, it will test the feasibility of using our novel analyses to identify and predict game outcomes in gambling when actual player data is not available. Third, it will provide objective data on how many hands will be required to analyze human players in the future.                                                                             


Seed Grant: Online gambling and death by suicide: A quasi-experimental approach to gambling policy impacts
Principal Investigator: Mark van der Maas, PhD, Rutgers University
Awarded $34,500 in 2022
Aim: Use the Restricted Access Database of the National Violent Death Reporting System to investigate changes in the rate and characteristics of deaths by suicide in states that have legalized online casino gambling compared against synthetic controls.

Seed Grant: Building better player feedback: An assessment of the responsible gambling utility of the positive play quiz
Principal Investigator: Nassim Tabri, PhD, Carleton University
Awarded $34,213.68 in 2022
Aim: Assess the influence of completing the Positive Play Quiz (PPQ), an online Positive Play Scale-based self-test that provides players with instant personalized and normative feedback, on gambling beliefs and behaviors. The investigators hypothesized that responsible gambling beliefs and behaviors will improve because of the personalized and normative feedback provided.  


Small Grant: Luck Has Nothing to Do With It: Establishing Evidence to Inform Positive Play, Harm Minimization and Treatment Referral for Lottery Players in Indiana
Principal Investigator: Alex Price, PhD, Responsible Gaming Council
Awarded $30,000 in 2021
This program of research supports the development of evidence-informed strategies for promoting the responsible gambling principles of positive play, harm minimization, and treatment referral for lottery players in Indiana. Specifically, it will 1) conduct a rapid literature review on best and promising practices relevant to lottery; 2) develop and administer an online survey of lottery players in Indiana to capture key demographics, mental health concerns, gambling education and support preferences, gambling behaviours and risk factors, gambling motivations, and impressions of innovative methods for engagement; and 3) synthesize the findings from the literature review and survey analysis to identify key challenges and opportunities and discuss Hoosier Lottery’s current responsible gambling strategic approach.
This grant is supported by a contribution from the Hoosier Lottery.

Sports Wagering in the US: A Nationally Representative Longitudinal Study
Principal Investigator: Joshua Grubbs, PhD, Bowling Green State University
Awarded $402,500 in 2021
The purpose of this research project is to conduct a large scale, longitudinal, national study of sports-wagering behaviors in the United States. The aims of this project are to establish the prevalence of sports-wagering behaviors in the adult population of the U.S., to identify risk factors for problematic sports-wagering behaviors, to explore how technology influences sports-wagering behaviors, to establish the natural trajectories of sports-wagering behaviors over time, and to clarify links between sports wagering and well-being.
This grant was funded by the Sports Wagering Research Fund, which is supported by by the following organizations: the American Gaming Association, MGM Resorts International, DraftKings, William Hill US/Caesars Entertainment, Entain, NASCAR, Hard Rock International, The PGA, and IGT.


Large Grant:  Building the evidence base for pre-commitment oriented play management systems: An examination of uptake, selection of a mandatory (versus voluntary) limit adherence option, and behavior change
Principal Investigator:  Michael J. A. Wohl, PhD, Carleton University
Awarded $171,660 in 2020
Can gambling operators help gamblers cultivate healthy, responsible play habits? The aim of this program of research is to provide an evidence-base for policymakers to make informed decisions about the strengths and weaknesses of responsible gambling programs that are currently being used in their jurisdiction. To this end, we will evaluate the uptake and responsible gambling utility of PlayMyWay,

Seed Grant: A Virtual Reality Intervention for Reducing Problematic Gambling in Young Adults
Principal Investigator: Robert Astur, PhD, University of Connecticut
Awarded $34,500 in 2020 
The researchers will adapt a novel smoking cessation intervention to reduce problematic gambling among young adults. They hypothesized that the virtual destruction of gambling stimuli will reduce real-life cravings to gamble and real-life gambling compared to the control group.

Seed Grant:  The Effects of Casinos on Birth Rates and Infant Health
Principal Investigator: Michael T. Mathes, PhD, Providence College
Awarded $22,039.90 in 2020
The project will examine the effect of casinos on the fertility rate and overall newborn health in counties with casino openings. The researchers will analyze data from birth records from the Restricted-Use Vital Statistics Data provided by the National Center for Health Statistics merged with a unique casino dataset. The result of this work will measure whether there are greater effects on county level birth rates and infant health from employment and increased income opportunities provided by casinos or from the potential to participate in risky behavior.

Seed Grant:  An umbrella review of gambling disorder treatment: Taking clinical decision-making to the next level
Principal Investigator: Nicki Dowling, PhD, Deakin University
Awarded $29,897.96 in 2020
The aim of the study is to provide an overall picture of the best international evidence for the treatment of gambling disorder. This will include a summary of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of treatments, the quality of evidence, and any adverse outcomes of treatments. It will also identify the most effective treatments for different groups of gamblers and highlight significant gaps in the evidence base.

Seed Grant: Identifying and Modeling the Schedules of Reinforcement in Live-Odds Betting
Principal Investigator: Simon Dymond, PhD, Swansea University
Awarded $34,455.15 in 2020
The aim of this project is to model the reward and temporal structure of betting behavior by analyzing several large datasets collected from de-centralized anonymous gambling behavior online, existing industry data that are publicly available, and representative datasets collected from online operators and betting shops in the United Kingdom.

Early and Adolescent Risk and Protective Factors for Problem Gambling – Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health
Principal Investigator:  Krishna Vaddiparti, PhD, University of Florida
Awarded $34,500 in 2020                  
The investigators will apply the socio-ecological model to understand risk and protective factors of problem gambling from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The Add-Health is a study of a nationally representative sample of
American adolescents in grades 7–12 who were assessed into their adulthood across five waves.

Dissertation Grant: The effect of social reinforcements on gambling-like behaviors in rats
Principal Investifator: Elena A. Tiddens, University of Sussex
Awarded $2,000 in 2020
The aim of this dissertation project is to reduce addiction-like behavior in animal models of GD by offering an alternative social reward.


Seed Grant: “Participatory Design of Interactive Persuasive Gambling Awareness: Enabling Gambling-Centered Innovation”
Principal Investigator: Raian Ali, PhD, Bournemouth University
Awarded $34,488 in 2019
Aim: Make a first utilization of the platform developed via the EROGamb project and provide gambler-led designs and also design principles of interactive, persuasive messages and forms which use gambling data for the purpose of making the gambling experience more in control.

Seed Grant: “Overlapping Neurobiological Mechanisms Contributing to Cue-driven Reward-seeking Behavior and Risky Decision-making”
Principal Investigator: Sara Morrison, PhD, University of Pittsburgh
Awarded $34,500 in 2019
Aim: This rat study will test the hypotheses that sign-tracking (ST) and risky decision-making engage overlapping brain circuitry and that individuals that tend toward ST will be more likely to make high-risk, high-reward choices, even when such choices are maladaptive.

Large Grant: “Developing and Testing a Brief Intervention for Problem Gambling in Credit Counseling”
Principal Investigator: Paul G. Sacco, PhD, University of Maryland School of Social Work.
Awarded $172,450 in 2019
Aim: Test effectiveness of brief intervention with text messaging in reducing gambling behavior and improving financial well being among credit counseling clients.

Seed Grant: “At-Risk Problem Gambling Clinical Comorbidities and Treatment Engagement among Homeless Veterans”
Principal Investigator: Steven D. Shirk, PhD, New England MIRECC
Awarded $34,035 in 2019
Aim: Better understand the clinical profile of homeless veterans and how it relates to problem gambling behavior.

Large Grant: “Don’t Go There: A Geospatial mHealth App for Gambling Disorder”
Principal Investigator: Jeremiah Weinstock, PhD, Saint Louis University
Awarded $172,354 in 2019
Aim: Develop and test efficacy of a novel mHealth app that will capitalize on smartphones’ global positioning software that recognizes a user’s location; in this case, a favorite gambling location.

Dissertation Grant: “Characterization of mPFC Subregions in Response Execution and Inhibition”
Principal Investigator: Jessica Caballero, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Awarded $ 2,000 in 2019
Aim: Abnormal control of execution and inhibition of behaviors is a major contributor to problems like gambling and addiction. People that have problems controlling the execution and inhibition of behaviors are often impulsive and constantly seek the reward they are after. The prelimbic (PL) and the infralimbic (IL) subregions of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and their projections to the nucleus accumbens core (NACc) and sell (NACsh) have been strongly implicated in the behavioral execution/inhibition balance. The aims of this animal study are: 1) Determine PL and IL influence over response execution and inhibition; and 2) determine circuitry mediating the execution and inhibition of reward seeking behaviors.

Dissertation Grant: “Therapeutic Engagement: Can Motivational Messages Engage At-Risk Gamblers in an Online Assessment?”
Principal Investigator: Samuel C. Peter, University of Memphis
Awarded $800 in 2019
Aim: The primary aim of this dissertation is to test whether static or interactive motivationally-based online messages can result in a higher rate of frequent gamblers completing an online gambling disorder screener when compared to a control message inviting gamblers to take the screener. It is hypothesized that individuals randomly assigned to one of the two motivationally-based approaches will be more likely to complete the problem gambling screener compared to those receiving a control message without motivational content.

Dissertation Grant: “Is More Better? A Meta-Analysis of Dose and Efficacy in Face-to-Face Psychological Treatments for Gambling Disorder”
Principal Investigator: Rory A. Pfund, University of Memphis
Awarded $395 in 2019
Aim: The specific aim of the proposed study is to determine whether there is a relation between the received dose and therapeutic outcome of face-to-face psychological treatments for gambling disorder. The hypothesis is that there is no relation between the received dose and therapeutic outcome in face-to-face psychological treatments for gambling disorder. That hypothesis will be tested using meta-analysis because it will allow for the quantitative synthesis of results from past studies.

Dissertation Grant: “From the Slots to the Bottle: A Mixed Method Study of Addiction Substitution in Gambling Disorder”
Principal Investigator: Hyoun S. (Andrew) Kim, University of Calgary
Awarded $2,000 in 2019
Aim: This dissertation aims to examine an understudied, yet important concept known as addiction substitution. Addiction substitution occurs when an individual who recovers from one addiction (e.g., gambling) subsequently increases the use of a secondary addictive behavior (e.g., alcohol). The aim is to address this empirical gap by examining the process of addiction substitution (i.e., how, why) among people who have recovered from gambling.

Dissertation: “Social Isolation, Drug Use and Gambling Problems in 10-17 Year  Olds”
Principal Investigator: Nathan Smith, University of Florida
Awarded $2,000 in 2019
Aim:  The aim of this analysis is to describe the relationship between social isolation, gambling participation and gambling problems in children aged 10-17. This includes providing data on prevalence rates of gambling participation, age of gambling onset, and prevalence of gambling problems. Finally, the study will attempt to address if gambling disorder behaves more similar to socially encouraged addictive behaviors such as alcohol use or more similar to isolationary addictive behaviors such as opioid misuse.


Early Stage Investigator Grant: “Reward Neurobiology of Gambling Disorder with and without Comorbid Depression”
Principal Investigator:    Susanna L. Fryer, PhD, University of California, San Francisco
Awarded $149,500 in 2018
Aim: Advance understanding of extent to which functioning of reward circuitry is similar or distinct in gambling disorder with and without co-occurring depression.

Seed Grant: “Impulsivity in Adolescent Children with a Family History of Gambling Disorder”
Principal Investigator:  Jatin G. Vaidya, PhD, University of Iowa
Awarded $34,500 in 2018
Aim: Assess distinct aspects of impulsivity in adolescents (12 to 17 years old who have at least one biological parent with a Gambling Disorder).

Seed Grant: “Characterization of Subtypes of Cortical Neurons in Impulsivity”
Principal Investigator:  Susan Marie Ferguson, PhD, Seattle Children’s Research Institute
Awarded $34,500 in 2018
Aim: Better understand impulsivity as it contributes to Gambling Disorder through study of rats.

Travel Grant: “Problem-gambling severity, suicidality and DSM-IV Axis I and II psychiatric disorders”
Principal Investigator: Silvia Ronzitti, MD, Yale School of Medicine and VA Connecticut Healthcare System
Awarded $1,500 in 2018
The Travel Grant will support the PI’s participation as a poster presenter at the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD).

Travel Grant: “Gambling-related cognitive distortions, psychopathology, and suicide ideation among veterans seeking treatment for problem gambling”
Principal Investigator: Steven D. Shirk, PhD, ENRM VA Hospital/New England MIRECC
Awarded $1,500 in 2018
The Travel Grant will support the PI’s participation as an oral presenter at the International Conference on Behavioral Addictions.

Travel Grant: Estimation of gambling disorder prevalence in high school students from Panama City, Panama
Principal Investigator: Gabriel C. Quintero, PhD, Florida State University – Republic of Panama
Awarded $1,500 in 2018
The Travel Grant will support the PI’s participation as a poster presenter at the annual meeting of the American Psychopathological Association.


Seed Grant: “Increased Gambling-like Behavior after Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury: A Dopamine Reduction Hypothesis”
Principal Investigator:  Cole Vonder Haar, PhD, West Virginia University
Awarded $34,413 in 2017
Aim: Understand the factors that lead to the development of Gambling Disorder after brain injury through a study of the decision-making abilities of brain-injured rats.

Responsible Gaming Association of New Mexico Grant: “Problem Gambling in New Mexico: A Study of at risk Youth and Adults”
Principal Investigator: Martha W. Waller, PhD, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
Awarded $291,868 in 2017
Aim: Examine gambling behavior among adolescents and adults across New Mexico with specific focus on subpopulations of race/ethnicity, military involvement, parents of minors, sexual minorities, housing unstable, and college students.  Building on existing long-term relationships with prevention communities across the state, the investigators will use a culturally competent, mixed-methods data collection approach to gather data from youth and adults across all regions of the state including rural, frontier, tribal, and urban locations to estimate problem gambling prevalence and statistically model the association with co-occurring risk and protective factors.

Travel Grant: “Altered Reward Processing as a Vulnerability for Gambling Disorder: a functional MRI study in Unaffected Siblings”
Principal Investigator: Eve Limbrick-Oldfield, PhD, University of British Columbia
Awarded $1,500 in 2017
Dr. Limbrick-Oldfield will present a poster and an oral presentation at the 2017 meeting of the Society of Biological Psychiatry.

Seed Grant: “At‐risk Gambling in Credit Counseling: Prevalence and Feasibility of Brief Intervention”
Principal Investigator: Paul Sacco, PhD, University of Maryland, Baltimore
Awarded $34,500 in 2017
Aims:  (1) To pilot screening for problem gambling in a sample of adults who seek services from a national consumer credit counseling organization; (2) To compare prevalence of at-risk gambling in consumer credit counseling users to national estimates; and (3) To evaluate the perceived acceptability and feasibility of gambling screening from the perspective of credit counselors.

Seed Grant: “ The Role of Recovery Capital and Gender Differences in Recovery from Gambling Disorder – A Mixed Methods Design”
Principal Investigator: Belle Gavriel-Fried, PhD, Tel Aviv University
Awarded $34,500 in 2017
Aims: (1) Examine the applicability of the concept of Recovery Capital to recovery from gambling addiction; and (2) probe gender differences in relation to their recovery and recovery capital. One-hundred and forty individuals who terminated treatment of gambling disorders in the previous 1-5 years will be asked to complete questionnaires including the gambling follow-up scale, the DSM-5 GD, the Assessment of Recovery Capital, and 3 open-ended questions.


Seed Grant: “Gambling and Traumatic Stress: Analyses in Veteran and Community Samples”
Principal Investigator:  Joshua B. Grubbs, PhD, Bowling Green State University
Awarded $34,500
Aim: Deepen the knowledge of the co-occurrence of gambling disorder and post-traumatic stress, by specifically examining the dispositional, motivational, and cognitive aspects of the known relationships between the two domains. Using two samples of veterans in a residential treatment program and an online, community sample of gambling adults, the project seeks to examine how symptoms of post-traumatic stress may be related to a tendency toward negative emotion (i.e., trait neuroticism), gambling-related cognitions (i.e., positive expectancies about gambling), and motivation to use gambling to cope with or escape from negative emotion.

Seed Grant: “The Effects of Sensory Reward Cues on Decision Making under Risk in Healthy Volunteers and Problem Gamblers”
Principal Investigator: Mariya Cherkasova, PhD
Awarded $34,500 in 2016
Aim: Understand the effects that sensory reward cues have on risky decision making in both healthy volunteers and disordered gamblers through a laboratory tasks; for example, measuring the impact of cues using eye tracking.

Travel Grant: “Continuous Associations between Delay Discounting and Addictive Behavior: A Meta-Analysis”
Principal Investigator: Michael Amlung, PhD, McMaster University
Awarded $1,500 in 2016
Dr. Amlung will present at the 2016 meeting of the Association for Behavior Analysis International on his research finding of strong support for impulsive delay discounting as a core behavioral phenotype of addictive disorders, including gambling disorder.

Travel Grant: “Shared and Unique Neural Structure Features of Substance and Behavioral Addictions”
Principal Investigator: Sarah W. Yip, PhD, Yale School of Medicine
Awarded $1,500 in 2016
Dr. Yip will present at the 2016 meeting of the Society of Biological Psychiatry on the findings of a brain imaging study that sought to confirm the hypothesis that there are structural similarities between behavioral and substance addictions.

Seed Grant: “Cortical and Subcortical Contributions to Risky Decision-Making Associated with Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Mike Robinson, Ph.D., Wesleyan University
Awarded $34,500 in 2016
Aim: Understand the contribution of two cortical regions (the orbitofrontal cortex and the anterior insula cortex) and one subcortical limbic region (the nucleus accumbens) to the process of choosing between safe and risky options.

Seed Grant: “Diurnal cortisol dynamics and gambling disorder”
Principal Investigator: Tony Buchanan, PhD, Saint Louis University
Awarded $34,500 in 2016
Aim: Characterize the relation between stress physiology and reward/punishment sensitivity through assessment of the daily pattern of cortisol secretion as well as monetary reward/punishment decisions in 25 persons with gambling disorder and a 25-person comparison group.

Seed Grant: “Problem Gambling among Asian/Asian-American College Students”
Principal Investigator: Dipali Venkataraman Rinker, PhD, University of Houston
Awarded $34,500 in 2016
Aim: Investigate gambling beliefs, patterns, family history and attitudes among Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Filipino and Pakistani students.


Large Grant: “Adaptation and Feasibility Testing of a Gambling-Specific SBIRT Intervention in the ‘Real World’ Clinical Setting”
Principal Investigator: Seth Himelhoch, PhD, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Awarded $172,500 in 2015
Aim: Develop and test a problem gambling-specific Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) intervention targeting individuals receiving medical care in general primary care clinics in order to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of inserting a problem gambling intervention into preexisting substance use SBIRT services being provided in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in the state.

Seed Grant: “Consequences of Gambling and Polysubstance Use Behavior Patterns”
Principal Investigator: Bethany Bray, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Awarded $34,000 in 2015
Aim: Understand how adolescent behavioral patterns of gambling and polysubstance use are linked to adulthood negative consequences using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health.

Seed Grant:  “Neurochemistry of Cognitive Control in Gambling Vulnerability”
Principal Investigator: Simon Dymond, PhD, Swansea University
Awarded $34,457 in 2015
Aim: Investigate whether individual differences in γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), the main inhibitory neurotransmitter, predict the extent to which someone is likely to be able to control their gambling and other forms of risk taking through a study of gamblers and non-gamblers. the findings will contribute to a better understanding of the neurochemistry of individual susceptibility to gambling problems, which may help inform the development of novel early intervention approaches for addictive behaviors like gambling disorders.


Travel Grant: “Effects of Mixed-Function Serotonergic Compounds in a Novel Rodent Cost/Benefit Decision-Making Task”
Principal Investigator: Amanda Persons, PhD, Rush University Medical Center
Awarded $1,294 in 2014
The Travel Grant supported Dr. Person’s participation in the poster session at the 2014 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Her study tested the impact of a serotonergic medication on decision making, using a novel rat model of cost/benefit decision making.

Travel Grant: “Rapid Intermittent Deep Brain Stimulation Biases Behavior in a Financial Decision-making Task”
Principal Investigator: Shaun Patel, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital
Awarded $1,500 in 2014
The Travel Grant supported Dr. Patel’s participation in the poster session at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, where he presented on a study of patients undergoing deep brain stimulation while engaged in a financial decision-making task.

Post-doctoral Individual Fellowship Grant: “On the Usefulness of Training Motor Response Inhibition Under Craving States in Individuals with Gambling Disorder”
Principal Investigator: Damien Brevers, PhD, University of Southern California
Awarded $169,861 in 2014
Aim: Understand the interactions between inhibition control, impulsivity and craving processes in addiction at a behavioral and neurobiological level.

Seed Grant: “Assessing Risk-preference and Compulsive Behavior in a Rodent Gambling Task”
Principal Investigator: Jamie Donahey Roitman, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
Awarded $34,500 in 2014
Aim: Devise an animal model of disordered gambling to understand the extent to which risky decision-making processes are innate or altered by experience; how different patterns of neural activity drive behavior toward risk-seeking or avoidance; and how therapeutic methods can alter neural activity to reduce disordered gambling behavior.

Seed Grant: “Risk and Resilience among Native American Youth in the Pacific Northwest”
Principal Investigator: Debi A. LaPlante, PhD, Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance
Awarded $34,447 in 2014
Aim: Better understand risk and resilience factors among Native American youth who will be assessed at regular community events, in partnership with the Healing Lodge of Seven Nations.

Seed Grant: “Discontinuity and Change Among Disordered Gamblers”
Principal Investigator: Michael J.A. Wohl, PhD, Carleton University
Awarded $27,772 in 2014
Aim: Determine what factors influence a person’s readiness to change behavior and receive help for a gambling disorder.

Large Grant: “Personality Traits, Affective Context and Pathological Gambling: An Experience Sampling Approach”
Principal Investigator: Donald R. Lynam, PhD, Purdue University
Awarded $172,037 in 2014
Aim: Develop a model to understand the intersecting factors of affect and impulse control traits on the development of a gambling disorder in order to allow for tailored interventions for disordered gamblers.

Large Grant: “Modifying the Automatic Approach Bias toward Gambling Stimuli in Problem Gamblers: A Novel Intervention for Changing Excessive Gambling Behavior”
Principal Investigator: Sherry H. Stewart, PhD, Dalhousie University
Awarded $172,500 in 2014
Aim: Understand the implicit thought patterns that could play a role in the development of a gambling disorder, by exploring whether or not disordered gamblers have an “approach bias” (i.e. the automatic tendency to approach or conduct a risky-behavior rather than avoid it).

Large Grant: “Biobehavioral Assessment and Validation of Animal Phenotype of Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Martin Zack, PhD, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Awarded $101,200 in 2014
Aim: Develop an animal model that accurately reflects the brain and behavioral profile of disordered gambling in order to test medications to treat the specific needs of people with a gambling disorder.

Large Grant: “Evaluation and Implementation of Personalized Normative Feedback for”
Principal Investigator: Clayton Neighbors, PhD, University of Houston
Awarded $233,570 in 2014
Aim: Evaluate the efficacy of the first-ever online screen/brief intervention for gambling among college and university students, hosted by the NCRG’s website,, in a nationwide sample.


Travel Grant: “Gambling and the Onset of Comorbid Mental Disorders: A Longitudinal Study Evaluating Severity and Specific Symptoms”
Principal Investigator: Iman Parhami, MD, MPH, Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Awarded $1,500 in 2013 
The Travel Grant supported Dr. Parhami’s participation in the annual meeting of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry where he gave a presentation on a study of the gambling data in the NESARC (National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions).

Travel Grant: “Do Pathological Gamblers Suffer from a Distorted Sensitivity to Reward?”
Principal Investigator: Guillaume Sescousse, PhD, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, the Netherlands
Awarded $1,500 in 2013
The Travel Grant supported Dr. Sescousee’s participation as a speaker at the 2013 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. His research suggests a distorted sensitivity to reward in disordered gamblers. From a clinical perspective, the findings suggest that enhancing the prominence of non-monetary rewards may be a fruitful strategy as part of a therapeutic approach.

Travel Grant: “The Atypical Antidepressant Mirtazapine Attenuates Gambling-like Behavior in Rodents”
Principal Investigator: Amanda Persons, PhD, Rush University Medical Center
Awarded $1,500 in 2013
The Travel Grant supported Dr. Person’s participation in the poster session at the 2013 meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD). She reported on research, funded by the NCRG, revealing that mirtazapine, an atypical antidepressant, reduced risk-taking behavior in rats.

Seed Grant:“How Skill Affects Gambler Responses to Wins and Losses”
Principal Investigator: Kyle Siler, PhD, McMaster University
Awarded $27,536.75 in 2013
Aim: Investigate whether more skilled online poker players will exhibit greater emotional control and strategic consistency following large wins and losses than their less skilled counterparts, whether lucky or unlucky.

Seed Grant: “An Animal Model of Relapse to Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: David Kearns, PhD, American University
Awarded $28,750 in 2013
Aim: Develop an animal model in which potential precipitators of relapse can be investigated. The animal model of relapse will not only provide information about the causes, but it will also set the stage for future research that tests behavioral and pharmacological interventions designed to prevent relapse.

Click here to see the studies produced by this grant

Seed Grant: “The Effects of PTSD on Risky Decision-Making”
Principal Investigator: Caitlin A. Orsini, PhD, University of Florida
Awarded $28,750 in 2013
Aim: Determine whether elevated risk-taking is a pre-disposing factor to developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-like symptoms following trauma using a rat model.

Early Stage Investigator Grant: “Developing a Mouse Model of Pathological Gambling using an Inducible and Tissue-specific Serotonin 1B Receptor Knock-out”
Principal Investigator: Katherine Nautiyal, PhD, Columbia University and Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc.
Awarded $147,706 in 2013
Aim: Determine the role played by the serotonin 1B receptor in the development of impulsive behavior through a mouse gambling behavioral model.

Large Grant: “Efficacy of a Brief Motivational Intervention Delivered via Smartphone and Short Messaging Service”
Principal Investigator: Matthew Martens, PhD, University of Missouri, Columbia
Awarded $171,350 in 2013
Aim: Test the efficacy of a novel Brief Motivational Intervention (BMI) designed to reduce gambling among college students and delivered via smartphone devices (i.e., cell phones with comprehensive web applications) and Short Messaging Service (SMS) technology.

Large Grant: “Social Influences on the Development of Risky Choice”
Principal Investigator: Scott A. Huettel, PhD, Duke University
Awarded $172,358 in 2013
Aim: Test the hypothesis that (a) that social context acts to amplify value signals associated with positive reward during risky decision making, and (b) that this amplifying effect is greater in adolescents.

Large Grant: “Neural Correlates of Impulsivity and their Modulation by Dopamine in Problem/Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Andrew Kayser, MD, PhD, University of California, San Francisco
Awarded $172,500 in 2013
Aim: Evaluate a novel translational (and potentially therapeutic) approach for gambling disorder: inhibitors of the dopamine-degrading enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT). Several COMT-inhibitor drugs are already FDA-approved, and can be readily tested in human subjects.

Large Grant: Characterization of Pathological Gambling as an Addictive Disorder
Principal Investigator: Jeremiah Weinstock, PhD, Saint Louis University
Awarded $168,824 in 2013
Aim: Examine the conceptualization of pathological gambling as an addiction and elucidate common etiological factors and pathways to addiction.


Seed Grant: “Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Problem Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Katie Witkiewitz, PhD, University of New Mexico
Awarded $28,129 in 2012
Aim: Conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of MBRP in the treatment of problem gambling.

Seed Grant: “Sequential Decision Making and Illusionary Pattern Detection in Gamblers”
Principal Investigator: Andreas Wilke, PhD, Clarkson University
Awarded $28,675 in 2012
Aim: Determine if subjects that have a greater tendency to perceive illusory patterns also have a higher tendency to gamble. If so, this will reveal an important aspect of gambling behavior that may lead to new screening tools for gambling risk.

Seed Grant: “A Benchmark Study for Monitoring Exposure to New Gambling Opportunities”
Principal Investigator: Sarah E. Nelson, PhD, Cambridge Health Alliance
Awarded $28,750 in 2012
Aim: Establish a baseline estimate of gambling behaviors and health within Massachusetts communities that can be used as the benchmark for a future long-term longitudinal investigation of the effect of gambling expansion on public health.

Early Stage Investigator Grant: “Stress Reactivity and Risk-taking Behavior in Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Iris Balodis, PhD,  Yale University School of Medicine
Awarded $64,797 in 2012
Aim: Better understand the mechanisms underlying the relationship between the stress response and engagement in risky behaviors in populations with gambling disorder.

Early Stage Investigator Grant: “Expanding the Study of Actual Internet Gambling Behavior: Exposure and Adaptation within a Newly Opened Market”
Principal Investigator: Heather Gray, PhD, Cambridge Health Alliance
Awarded $141,362 in 2012
Aim: Use the actual online gambling transactions to describe the gambling behavior of the most active and “high risk” gamblers and to examine gamblers’ adaptation to new gambling opportunities.

Large Grant: “Web-based Screening and Brief Intervention for Disordered Gambling Among Emerging Adults”
Principal Investigator: Mary Larimer, PhD, University of Washington
Awarded $172,500 in 2012
Aim: Test a brief intervention for gambling with emerging adults (ages 18-25) recruited through social media.

Large Grant: “Evaluating the Potential of Mixed-Function Serotonergic Compounds for Treatment of Gambling Disorders”
Principal Investigator: T. Celeste Napier, PhD, Rush University Medical Center
Awarded $172,500 in 2012
Aim: Expedite the discovery and development of effective treatment strategies for gambling disorder by using a unique rat models to determine if medications used for other diseases can be repurposed for the treatment of gambling disorders.

Early Stage Investigator Grant: “The Peer Group Regulates Motivational Pathways to Gambling in Youth: Implications for Early Intervention”
Principal Investigator: Jennifer L. Tackett, PhD, University of Houston
Awarded: $64,800 in 2012
Aim: Investigate the extent to which dispositional traits (i.e. Extraversion and Neuroticism) and motivational pathways (i.e. approach and avoidance motivations) predict distinct pathways to youth gambling.

Travel Grant: “Creating Change: A Past-Focused Model for PTSD and Addictions”
Principal Investigator: Joni Utley, Psy.D, VA Boston Healthcare System, VA Bedford/ Boston University School of Medicine
Awarded $ 1,500 in 2012
The Travel Grant supported Dr. Utley’s participation in the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies conference where she presented a paper on Creating Change (CC), a new past-focused behavioral therapy model developed for comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addictions, including gambling disorder.


Seed Grant: “Mirtazapine as a Pharmacological Intervention for Reducing Risk-Taking Behavior”
Principal Investigator: T. Celeste Napier, PhD, Rush University Medical Center
Awarded $28,750 in 2011
Aim: Identify the potential for repurposing the atypical antidepressant, mirtazapine, as a pharmacological intervention for reducing risk-behavior and/or relapse prevention of gambling disorders.

Seed Grant: “Evaluating and Treating the Near-Miss Magnitude Effect in Underage Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Mark R. Dixon, PhD, Southern Illinois University
Awarded $34,500 in 2011
Aim: Test the hypothesis that exposure to “near-misses” that resemble large jackpot wins will produce greater activity in the dopamine reward system than near-misses that resemble small jackpot wins in an fMRI scanner; and evaluate the efficacy of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for reducing and altering disordered gambling behavior.

Large Grant: “Social Network Analysis of Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Adam Goodie, PhD, University of Georgia
Awarded $172,487 in 2011
Aim: Use a social network analysis to investigate the role of a gambler’s social network in his or her gambling-related pathology.

Large Grant: “Assessing the Contribution of Reinforcement-learning Deficits in Pathological Gamblers”
Principal Investigator: John O’Doherty, PhD, California Institute of Technology
Awarded $172,500 in 2011
Aim: Study patterns of neural activity while disordered gamblers – and a comparison group of recreational gamblers – perform simple tasks in which they learn to make choices in order to obtain monetary gains and avoid losses with hopes of learning what neurological factors are involved in responses to rewarding and punishing events among people with gambling problems.

Special Initiative: “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Personalized Normative Feedback for Problem Gambling College Students”
Principal Investigator: Clayton Neighbors, PhD, University of Houston
Awarded $171,561 in 2011
Aim: Develop and test an online screening and brief intervention (SBI) aimed at reducing gambling-related problems among college students using Personalized Normative Feedback (PNF), an approach successfully employed to reduce rates of drinking on campus by showing students their misperceptions of student drinking behavior.


Exploration Grant: “A Virtual internet Gambling Paradigm and Default-mode Brain Functioning in Pathological Gamblers Assessed by Resting-state fMRI”
Primary Investigator: Yijun Liu, PhD, University of Florida
Awarded $5,400 in 2010
Aim: Understand the neural pathways involved in excessive gambling and discern what is unique about the online gaming experience for people with gambling-related problems.

Seed Grant: “Patterns of Information Processing in Risky Decision Making”
Principal Investigator: Scott Huettel, PhD, Duke University
Awarded $34,500 in 2010
Aim: Test the hypothesis that whether someone makes a risky or safe choice depends not simply on preferences, but on the strategies they use to acquire and integrate new information.

Large Grant: “Efficacy of a Personalized Feedback Intervention at Reducing Gambling Behaviors among College Students”
Principal Investigator: Matthew P. Martens, PhD, University of Missouri, Columbia
Awarded $172,500 in 2010
Aim: Test a personalized feedback-only intervention that will provide “at-risk” college students with information about their own behavior. The goal is to determine if college students receiving personalized feedback will report less gambling, fewer dollars gambled and less problem gambling than students in the education/advice and assessment-only control conditions.

Large Grant: ”Determinants of Gambling: Distinguishing between Disordered and Recreational Gambling”
Principal Investigator: John Nyman, PhD, University of Minnesota
Awarded $136,449 in 2010
Aim: Understand the differentiating factors between recreational gamblers with no gambling-related problems and pathological gamblers to determine when a recreational gambler becomes a problem gambler.


Large Grant: “Motivational Pathways to Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Adam Goodie, PhD, University of Georgia
Awarded $172,233 in 2009
Aim: Determine if certain personality types have a direct, causal link to pathological gambling in order to inform prevention and treatment for different kinds of disordered gamblers.

New Investigator Grant: “Gambling Behaviors Among Youth: A Developmental Behavioral Genetic Perspective”
Principal Investigator: Serena M. King, Ph.D., L.P., Hamline University
Awarded $57,318 in 2009
Aim: Understand the roles that behavioral problems, genes and environment play in gambling behaviors from adolescence to young adulthood.


“Alcohol and Gambling Types: Motivation and Cue Reactivity”
Principal Investigator: Edward Gottheil, MD, Ph.D., University of Washington
Awarded $172,500 in 2006
Aim: Understand the relationships between gambling experience and arousal (self-reported and electrodermal) in response to specific types of gambling-related visual cues (machine, cards, sports betting).

“An Analysis of Pathological Gambling in the National Comorbidity Replication Survey”
Principal Investigator: Ron Kessler, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
Awarded $115,000 in 2006
Aim: Analyze the gambling data collected for the 2001-2003 version of the National Comorbidity Replication Survey, the landmark study of mental health among 9,000 households in the U.S., funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

“The Cognitive Neuroscience of Control and Decision-Making in Problem Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Brett A. Clementz, Ph.D., University of Georgia
Awarded $167,088 in 2006
Aim: Investigate differences between problem and non-problem gamblers concerning the spatial and temporal patterns of brain functioning that support decision-making.

“Dopaminergic Neurotransmission and Cognitive Bias in Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Jakob Linnet, Ph.D., Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark
Awarded $149,185 in 2006
Aim: Test the hypothesis that pathological gamblers have a lower dopamine concentration and a higher dopamine release during gambling compared with healthy controls; that other factors, such as personality traits such as sensation seeking, influence the dopamine release during gambling; and, that dopamine binding potential and occupancy are associated (directly or indirectly) with cognitive bias of gambling performance.

New Investigator Grant: “Gambling Patterns and Problems: A Longitudinal Study of Change in Gambling Patterns in a College Student Sample”
Principal Investigator: Anna E. Goudriaan, Ph.D., University of Amsterdam
Awarded $57,436 in 2006
Aim: Analyze gambling patterns, changes over time in gambling patterns, at-risk gambling and gambling problems in sample of 2,470 college students, thus filling the need for longitudinal studies on sub-clinical gambling problems.

New Investigator Grant: “Individual Differences in the Propensity to Approach Signals vs. Goals: Relevance to Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Shelly B. Flagel, Ph.D., Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, University of Michigan
Awarded $56,197 in 2006
Aim: Create a viable model of pathological gambling that addresses both the impulsivity and risk-taking dimensions of the disorder.

“Neuropsychological Correlates of Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Donald W. Black, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa
Awarded $172,500 in 2006
Aim: Test the hypothesis that persons with a gambling disorder will perform more poorly on measures of executive function (e.g., decision-making), attention and impulsivity, but that general intelligence and memory will not differ.

New Investigator Grant: “A Novel Approach for Investigating the Neurobiological Basis of Gambling Using a Rodent Analogue of the Iowa Gambling Task”
Principal Investigator: Catharine A. Winstanley, Ph.D., University of British Columbia
Awarded $57,500 in 2006
Aim: Develop and test a novel model of gambling behavior in rats based on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) to determine if the rat IGT (RIGT) is a valid model of gambling behavior and whether damage to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) increases risky decision-making in keeping with data from human studies.

“A Survey of the Pathological Gambling Treatment Workforce”
Principal Investigator: Anne Helene Skinstad, Ph.D., University of Iowa, The Prairielands Addiction Technology Transfer Center
Awarded $168,941 in 2006
Aim: Address the dearth of knowledge about the professional workforce charged with preventing and treating problem gambling through a survey that will help form a strategy for the design and development of an evidence-based curriculum for delivery to gambling treatment professionals.


“Behavioral Couples Therapy for Pathological Gamblers”
Principal Investigator: Robert G. Rychtarik, Ph.D., The Research Foundation of SUNY on behalf of the University at Buffalo/Research Institute on Addictions
Awarded $57,500 in 2004
Aim: Test the efficacy of Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT), a spouse-involved treatment shown to be effective for other addictions, for gambling disorder.

Guided Self-Change for Treating Problematic Co-morbid Gambling and Alcohol Problems Among College Students
Principal Investigator: James P. Whelan, Ph.D., University of Memphis
Awarded $57,384 in 2004
Aim: Test the efficacy of treating college students who both drink and gamble to excess with a treatment that is a modification of Guided Self-Change intervention, one of the most well supported brief treatments for alcohol and other substance abuse problems.

“Laboratory-based Assessment of Impulsivity in Pathological Gamblers Entering Treatment”
Principal Investigator: Nancy Petry, Ph.D., University of Connecticut Health Center
Awarded $56,383 in 2004
Aim: Test the hypothesis that scores on some measures of impulsivity will be associated with gambling problems, co-occurring substance abuse and poorer gambling treatment outcomes.

New Investigator Grant: “Prevalence of Gambling Disorders: Association with Drug Use and Psychiatric Comorbidity in Adolescents Living in Baltimore”
Principal Investigator: Silvia Martins, MD, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Awarded $23,000 in 2004
Aim: Understand the gambling habits, gambling problems and comorbid psychiatric problems in a sample of 15-16 year old youth (90% African American) from Baltimore city. This grant enabled the PI to secure funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Development to continue the study.


“Dopamine Release in Response to Monetary Reward Measured with Positron Emission Tomography”
Principal Investigator: Alain Dagher, MD, McGill University
Awarded $156,634 in 2003 
Aim: Examine whether reduced dopamine levels is a marker for vulnerability to gambling addiction. The hypothesis is that compared to controls, pathological gamblers will show elevated dopamine release correlates with novelty-seeking personality type, cortisol levels and autonomic and mood measures.

“Functional MRI of Decision-Making in Substance Abuse and Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Jody Tanabe, MD, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Awarded $172,500 in 2003
Aim: Test hypothesis that defects in ventral medial frontal processing lead to impaired decisions that involve risk.

“Rules, Rewards, and Decisions in the Orbital Prefrontal Cortex”
Principal Investigator: Charan Ranganath, Ph.D., University of California-Davis
Awarded $170,291 in 2003 
Aim: Test hypothesis that low extraversion scores and reduced dopamine levels predispose some to develop a gambling problem.


“A Cross-Sectional Study of the Impact of Gambling on Patients with Schizophrenia”
Principal Investigator: Rani Desai, Ph.D., Yale School of Medicine
Awarded $172,477 in 2001
Aim:  Assess the prevalence and types of gambling and related behaviors and problems in patients with schizophrenia and the influence of a co-occurring diagnosis with a substance use disorder on gambling behaviors.

“Gambling Among Elderly Individuals: Prevalence and Risk Factors”
Principal Investigator: Edward Federman, Ph.D., Boston University
Awarded $160,639 in 2001
Aim: investigate whether mild cognitive impairment or limited social support increases the probability that individuals who attend senior centers will participate in gambling trips and, within that group, whether those factors increase the probability of developing gambling problems.

“A Population-Based Twin Study of Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Kenneth Kendler, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University
Awarded $172,500 in 2001
Aim: Assess gambling problems in a registry of 7,500 adult male and female twins in order to elucidate the heritability of pathological gambling, clarifying its relationship with milder forms of problem gambling, and determining the genetic and environmental relationship between pathological gambling and major psychiatric disorders and personality traits.

“Reliability and Validity of an Integrated Gambling Assessment and Treatment Outcome Monitoring System (GAMTOMS)”
Principal Investigator: Randy Stinchfield, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Medical School
Awarded $172,294 in 2001
Aim: Develop and test first instrument for measuring treatment outcomes for problem gambling..

“Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders”
Principal Investigator: Howard J. Shaffer, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance
Awarded $1.14 million a year from 2001 – 2009
The NCRG delegated the research and education functions of the NCRG to the Division on Addiction, Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching hospital of HMS, from 2001 to 2009. This grant supported the intramural research conducted by the Division on Addiction faculty and also the extramural research grants program that sponsored the research projects listed in this section from 2001 through 2008.


“A Family-Genetic Study of Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Donald W. Black, MD, University of Iowa
Awarded $169,929 in 2000
Aim: Understand the role that family history of gambling disorder plays in the development of pathological gambling. The investigator received a major grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2005 to continue the research.

“Naltrexone and Citalopram Treatment of Pathological Gambling and Co-Morbid Alcohol Abuse or Dependence”
Principal Investigator: Marc N. Potenza, MD, Ph.D., Yale School of Medicine
Awarded $172,500 in 2000
Aim: Test the short-term tolerability and efficacy of the antidepressant citalopram, naltrexone (a drug used to blunt cravings for alcohol) and a citalopram/naltrexone combination pharmacotherapy in the treatment of dually diagnosed patients with pathological gambling and alcohol abuse or dependence.

“Pharmacological Priming of Gambling-Related Cognitions by Amphetamine”
Principal Investigator: Martin Zack, Ph.D., Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Awarded $75,042 in 2000
Aim: Explore the role played by neurochemical activation in the development of gambling addiction.


“Adolescent Gambling Behavior as a Function of Individual Differences in Risk-Taking and Potentially Life-Diminishing Behaviors, Gender, Peer and Family Context, and Community Norms For Legalized Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Ph.D., University of South Alabama
Awarded $125,800 in 1999
Aim: Understand the role of demographic, individual, family, and peer variables in the development of gambling problems among adolescents.

“Adolescent Understanding of the Emotional and Cognitive Aspects of Gambling: The Development of A Prevention Strategy”
Principal Investigator: Nigel E. Turner, Ph.D., Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto
Awarded $88,296 in 1999
Aim: Develop and test an interactive prevention package designed to enhance the students’ understanding of the role of randomness, probability and emotion in non-problem gambling. The findings were published in the Journal of Gambling Studies.

“Affective, Cognitive and Perceptual Processes in Gambling: Differences between Pathological and Recreational Gamblers” Principal Investigator: Lawrence E. Jones, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Awarded $172,155 in 1999
Aim: Identify and describe several distinct “types” of gambling styles and strategies, including ones that will distinguish between subtypes of pathological gamblers.

“The Development of a Diagnostic Gambling Assessment – The GAM-IV”
Principal Investigator: Renee Cunningham-Williams, Ph.D., Washington University, St. Louis
Awarded $112,021 in 1999
Aim: Develop and test a new assessment instrument for gambling disorder. The grant provided seed money that helped the lead investigator secure funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute of Mental Health.

“Functional MRI of Neural Responses to Monetary Gains, Losses and Prospects in Pathological Gamblers and Normal Subjects”
Principal Investigator: Hans Breiter, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital
Awarded $172,500 in 1999
Aim: Understand brain activation produced by a monetary reward in a gambling-like experiment. As a result of this grant support, the lead investigator received support from National Institutes of Health and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“Reward Deficiency ERPS: Effects of D2a1, Gambling Pathology and ADHD”
Principal Investigator: Charles A. Warren, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago
Awarded $172,492 in 1999
Aim: Investigate whether certain event-related brain potential (ERP) abnormalities in response to gambling feedback might reflect a reward deficiency syndrome, whose severity theoretically is driven partly by presence of the dopamine D2 receptor gene, A1 variant (D2A1).


“Double-Blind Study of Naltrexone and Placebo in the Treatment of Pathological Gambling Disorder”
Principal Investigator: Suck Won Kim, MD, University of Minnesota Medical School
Awarded $53,374 in 1998
Aim: Test efficacy of naltrexone, a drug used to blunt cravings for alcohol, for treating pathological gambling. In 2002, the lead investigator was awarded $464,463 by the National Institute of Mental Health to expand this study.

“The Harvard Project on Gambling and Health”
Principal Investigator: Howard J. Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S., Harvard Medical School
Awarded $465,069 in 1998
Aim: Investigate several streams of research on gambling and gambling disorders: 1) prevalence and measuring prevalence; (2) a public health framework for gambling; 3) a three-year study of the health risks of casino employees; (4) how gambling and other behavioral addictions are changing the notion of addiction; and (5) trends in gambling research and publications.


“Cognitive Biases in Problem Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Nigel E. Turner, Ph.D., Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto
Awarded $33,748 in 1997
Aim: Understand how erroneous thoughts about the odds of winning contribute to the development of a gambling disorder.

“Cognitive Treatment of Pathological Gambling Among Adults and Adolescents”
Principal Investigator: Robert Ladouceur, Ph.D., Universitié Laval
Awarded $140,499 in 1997
Aim: Test the efficacy of cognitive therapy—correcting the gambler’s erroneous assumptions about probability and statistics—as a treatment for pathological gamblers.

“Critical Dimensions of Relapse in Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: David C. Hodgins, Ph.D., University of Calgary
Awarded $106,638 in 1997
Aim: Understand factors leading to a high relapse rate among a sample of disordered gamblers who had recently quit gambling.

“The Molecular Genetics of Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: David E. Comings, MD, The City of Hope National Medical Center
Awarded $159,900 in 1997
Aim: Investigate association between pathological gambling and multiple dopamine receptor genes thus lending support for the idea that people with gambling disorders have a deficient reward center that predisposes them to developing a gambling disorder.

“Psychosocial and Behavioral Factors Associated with Problem Gambling by Youth”
Principal Investigator: Randy Stinchfield, Ph.D., Minnesota Institute on Public Health
Awarded $57,339 in 1997
Aim: Investigate the rate of gambling and gambling problems among Minnesota public school students.

“Relation of Cognitive Status to Brain Blood Flow and Dopamine Receptors in Pathological Gamblers”
Principal Investigator: Peter F. Goyer, MD, VA Medical Center-Cleveland
Awarded $138,000 in 1997
Aim: Test hypotheses that disordered gamblers, compared to controls, will perform more poorly on tests of attention and executive function, will have significantly reduced rCBF in frontal cortex and reduced dopamine D2 receptor function, and will be more likely to be carriers of the D2A1 allele for the dopamine D2 receptor gene.

“Youth Gambling: Transition from Adolescence to Young Adulthood”
Principal Investigator: Ken C. Winters, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Awarded $56,410 in 1997
Aim: Investigate youth gamblers over an eight-year period.


“Estimating the Prevalence of Disordered Gambling Behavior in the United States and Canada: A Meta-Analysis”
Principal Investigator: Howard J. Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S., Harvard Medical School
Awarded $140,000 in 1996
Aim: Conduct a meta-analytic strategy to synthesize estimates of gambling disorder from 119 prevalence studies to determine a national rate of gambling disorder in the adult general population and subpopulations in the US and Canada. The findings were praised by the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of Pathological Gambling as the most reliable estimates to date (Pathological Gambling: A Critical Review, 1999).

The ICRG funds research project grants through a competitive, peer-reviewed program. The project grants program allows investigators from research institutions around the world to apply for funding for specific research projects. Since it was launched in 1996, the project grants program has advanced the field of research on gambling disorder. Below is a complete list of project grants awarded since 1996, including research summaries and studies produced.

ICRG Centers of Excellence in Gambling Research

The ICRG launched the Centers of Excellence in Gambling Research in 2009. Based at top-tier research institutions, the ICRG Centers of Excellence employ a long-term, institutional approach to conducting innovative and multidisciplinary investigations on seminal research issues. The centers also provide extensive mentorship to new investigators and disseminate their research through education programs. See below for information on individual centers.

Scientific Achievement Awards

The ICRG recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of research on gambling disorder and responsible gambling with the annual ICRG Scientific Achievement Award. The educator category honors those who have excelled at promoting public awareness and education about gambling disorder.

Pictured here are the 2023 recipients, Deirdre Querney, M.S.W., and Iris M. Balodis, PhD. They are being honored for their successful efforts to translate the neurobiology of gambling disorder for people with gambling programs, treatment providers and the public. Their animated video is available at