|GAMBLING INSTITUTE MOVES TO HARVARD
Friday, November 03, 2000
By DAMON HODGE
lasvegas.com GAMING WIRE
The October move of the National Center for Responsible
from Kansas City, Mo., to Harvard University strengthens scientific
efforts to understand gambling disorders, according to its executive
"There's not a high awareness of pathological gambling
disorder, much like there is for drug abuse or alcoholism," Christine
Reilly said. "Having one of the most respected research institutions
in the world study the problem moves it to the next level."
The center's parent group, the Gaming Entertainment Research
Education Foundation, awarded Harvard a two-year contract to create
the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related
The institute, housed in the medical school's Division
Addiction, will evaluate research proposals and seek funding for
Reilly said the institute will produce research that provides
clarity on the various types of gambling-related disorders.
"Right now, we don't have a sense of the natural history
disorders," she said.
MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said pathological gambling
largely ignored until 1980, when it was listed in the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual, a medical reference book published by the
American Psychiatric Association.
Feldman said scientific efforts to create awareness of
have been hurt by a disjointed approach to research and treatment.
The emergence of different types of terminology for gambling
disorders - problem gambling, pathological gambling, disordered
gambling - further stunted awareness efforts, Feldman said.
"You could have talented treatment professionals using
language to describe pathological gambling's characteristics, but
they couldn't communicate with each other about the problem, much
less with the outside world," he said.
Feldman credits Harvard Medical School psychology professor
Shaffer, who studies gambling addiction, with initiating the process
to standardize terminology for gambling disorders.
Shaffer, who directs the Division on Addiction, said Harvard
studied gambling disorders since 1983.
"By establishing the institute, we're saying to the world
is a very important scientific phenomenon that demands attention,"
The National Council on Problem Gambling defines pathological
gambling as a progressive addiction characterized by a preoccupation
with gambling. It defines problem gambling as behavior that disrupts
any major area of a person's life.
Keith Whyte, executive director of the national Council
Gambling, estimated that last year 1 percent of U.S. adults would
have met the criteria for being pathological gamblers and another 2
percent to 3 percent of adults would have been classified with the
less-severe label of problem gambler.
Carol O'Hare, executive director of the Nevada Council
Gambling, said the institute could produce the type of peer-reviewed
research needed to access funding for research and treatment programs.
She also expects researchers to probe the relationship
pathological gambling and other addictive disorders, examine what
populations are most susceptible to pathological gambling and
determine which treatments work and the best way to deliver those
"The people who suffer from these disorders benefit
most from the
research," said O'Hare, whose council runs a 24-hour help line that
fielded 1,800 calls last year.
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