SEIGMA / MAGIC

Dr. Rachel Volberg

Dr. Rachel VolbergDr. Rachel Volberg has been involved in epidemiological research on gambling and problem gambling since 1985 and has directed or consulted on numerous gambling studies throughout the world. In 1988, Dr. Volberg was the first investigator to receive funding from the (U.S.) National Institutes of Health to study the prevalence of problem gambling in the general population. Dr. Volberg is currently the Principal Investigator on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) study. In addition to her work in Massachusetts, Dr. Volberg is working on two projects in Canada to assess the impacts of the introduction of online gambling and to identify best practices in population assessments of problem gambling.  She is also a member of research teams in Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden conducting large-scale longitudinal studies to identify predictors of transitions into and out of gambling and problem gambling. Dr. Volberg has published extensively, presented at national and international conferences, and testified before legislative committees in states and provinces throughout North America. She sits on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Gambling Studies, International Gambling Studies and the Journal of Gambling Issues and is a longtime member of the American Sociological Association and the (U.S.) National Council on Problem Gambling. Dr. Volberg holds appointments at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, NORC at the University of Chicago and the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.

Dr. Mark Melnik

Dr. Mark MelnikDr. Mark Melnik is the Director of Economic & Public Policy Research at the UMass Donahue Institute. He specializes in demographic, socio-economic, and labor market issues. Before joining the Institute, Dr. Melnik worked as deputy director for research at the Boston Redevelopment Authority where he led research teams on demographic and economic research studies as well as analyses used for public policy advisement and decision making with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the City of Boston. Prior to his work at the BRA, Dr. Melnik worked as a research associate at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. He also has extensive teaching experience in urban sociology, statistics, and research methods. Dr. Melnik holds a doctorate of philosophy in sociology from Northeastern University. His dissertation explored skill and credential mismatches in the greater Boston labor market. He received his master’s of arts from Northeastern University and his bachelor’s of arts from Youngstown State University, both in sociology.

Dr. Robert Williams

Dr. Robert WilliamsDr. Robert Williams is a professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and also a Research Coordinator for the Alberta Gambling Research Institute. Dr. Williams teaches courses on gambling; provides frequent consultation to government, industry, the media, and public interest groups; regularly gives expert witness testimony on the impacts of gambling; and is a co-editor of International Gambling Studies. Dr. Williams is a leading authority in the areas of:  prevention of problem gambling; Internet gambling; the socioeconomic impacts of gambling, the proportion of gambling revenue deriving from problem gamblers; the prevalence and nature of gambling in Aboriginal communities; the etiology of problem gambling; and best practices in the population assessment of problem gambling.

Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance

Debi LaPlante

Dr. Debi LaPlanteDr. LaPlante is Director of Research & Academic Affairs at the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS). She joined the Division during 2001, and has been involved with its diverse research, education, and outreach activities. With her colleagues, she developed the Syndrome Model of Addiction and engaged in a seminal 10-year research program on Internet gambling that was the first to use actual gambling records, rather than just self-report. She has authored dozens of book chapters, journal articles, and reports. More recently, she co-edited the two volume Choice awarded APA Addiction Syndrome Handbook. Dr. LaPlante is the author of the e-book, Responsible Drinking for Women. Dr. LaPlante currently is involved with a federally funded research program with seven tribes in the Northwest and the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations. She and her colleagues are working with these tribes to identify the strengths and needs that these tribes have related to supporting tribal youth who are in recovery from addiction. She also is involved with the development of the Division’s innovative assessment software, the Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS). CARS emerged from her and her colleagues’ federally funded research into psychiatric comorbidity and driving while impaired. This tool provides real time screening and diagnostic information for mental health disorders and geo-targeted referrals. CARS can be used by professionals and laypersons, alike. For Massachusetts, Dr. LaPlante is overseeing the Division’s evaluations of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Voluntary Self-Exclusion, GameSense, and PlayMyWay programs. She also is working with the Department of Public Health’s Office of Problem Gambling Services to revise the Your First Step to Change self-help workbook and preparing evidence-based guidelines for treating gambling-related problems. In addition to these research and resource activities, Dr. LaPlante is a member of the editorial team for the Division’s research summary blog, The Brief Addiction Science Information Source. She also is a course director for online and live continuing education courses for addiction, and for gambling-related problems, specifically. She is regular reviewer for research grants and academic journal submissions. Dr. LaPlante has numerous peer-reviewed publications and her work has been supported by state, federal, private, and foundation funding.

Howard Shaffer

Dr. Howard ShafferDr. Howard Jeffrey Shaffer is the Morris E. Chafetz Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Field of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Medical School; in addition, he is the Director of the Division on Addiction at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital. During recent years, Dr. Shaffer has served as principal or co-principal investigator on many government, foundation, and industry sponsored research projects around the world. Dr. Shaffer is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. In addition to an active private practice, Dr. Shaffer consults internationally to a variety of organizations in business, education, human services, and government. Dr. Shaffer is licensed as a clinical psychologist in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the National Register of Health Care Providers in Psychology also certifies him. Dr. Shaffer is the founder of the American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders which represents the first international credentialing body for clinicians working with multiple expressions of addiction. Dr. Shaffer served on the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Committee on the Social and Economic Impacts of Pathological Gambling. His professional appointments also have included consultation to the National Institutes of Health, The National Cancer Institute, The National Council on Marijuana and Health, The Icelandic Ministry of Health and Social Security, The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, the Tung Wah Hospital Group, and The Massachusetts Departments of Mental and Public Health.

Public Safety Impact Study

Christopher W. Bruce

Christopher W. Bruce

Christopher W. Bruce is a career crime analyst with previous service at the Cambridge Police Department (1994–2001) and the Danvers Police Department (2001–2010). He was president of the Massachusetts Association of Crime Analysts from 2000 to 2004 and has served in three roles in the International Association of Crime Analysts: vice president of administration (2000‐2006), president (2007‐2012), and vice president of membership (2016‐present). He has served as an instructor in criminal justice and crime analysis topics at Suffolk University (2001–2010), Westfield State University (2009–2010), the University of Massachusetts Lowell (2009–2010), Middlesex Community College (2007–2011), Tiffin University (2006‐present), and Western Oregon University (2010‐present). Christopher is an internationally‐recognized expert in police data systems and police data analysis. He currently consults with the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance; the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs; the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training. He is the contracted analytical director for NHTSA’s Data‐Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) program, and a subject matter expert for BJA’s Smart Policing Initiative and its National Training and Technical Assistance Program.

Gaming Research Review Committee

In order to assure only the highest quality research, the MGC has assembled an independent gaming research review committee.  This committee is charged with providing the MGC and research teams with advice and feedback on gaming research design, methods and analysis.  Where additional expertise is needed, the MGC will seek the advice of top academics and experts with specific subject matter expertise to review reports and advise on research matters. Members of the Gaming Research Review Committee include:

Bruce B. Cohen, Ph.D. (chair)

Dr. Cohen served as the Director of the Division of Research and Epidemiology for the Bureau of Health Information and Statistics in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health until his retirement in 2014. He served as chair of the Department IRB for eight years, and has had adjunct appointments at Tufts Medical School, University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Boston University School of Public Health.  He is a member of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics where he currently co-chairs the Population Health Subcommittee.  He was on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems, where he served as treasurer.  Dr. Cohen is particularly interested in the areas of simplifying epidemiologic data for community advocacy, data release guidelines, race-ethnicity variation in disease patterns, use of population estimates and socioeconomic data for small area health analyses, the impact of the use of assisted reproductive technology, the public health impact of gambling, and evaluation of health programs.  Mr. Cohen received his Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of California, School of Public Health, Berkeley; his M.S. in comprehensive health planning from the University of California, Los Angeles; and his B.A. in social and behavioral sciences from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Joel S. Weissman, Ph.D.

Dr. Weissman is Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Professor of Surgery in Health Policy at Harvard Medical School.  He has led numerous federally funded studies (over $10 million lifetime), and has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles in the areas of surgical health services, patient-centered quality and safety, payment reform, disparities/vulnerable populations, uncompensated care, drug policy, comparative effectiveness research policy, and academic-industry relationships.  He was the lead evaluator for the roll-out of Consumer’s Union Best Buy Drugs program, and performed seminal work on access to care by the uninsured including his book, “Falling Through the Safety Net: Insurance Status and Access to Care,” with a forward by Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Dr. Weissman also is co-director of a course on health services research methods at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (portions of which have been taught in Singapore, Puerto Rico, and Mexico). During 2008-2010 Dr. Weissman served as Senior Health Policy Advisor to the Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, during which he led the planning effort for a multi-million dollar statewide all-payer medical home pilot, examined the budgetary impact of universal health coverage (NEJM perspective), and provided strategic thinking on public reporting of re-hospitalizations, non-payment for serious reportable events, improving care transitions, comparative effectiveness research, and reducing racial and ethnic disparities.  Dr. Weissman received his doctorate in health policy from the Heller School, Brandeis.

Anthony Roman, MA

Mr. Roman served as the Senior Statistician at the Center for Survey Research at the University of Massachusetts-Boston from 1985 until his retirement in 2014. He oversaw all sampling performed within the Center and consulted to all areas of statistical analyses of complex surveys. Mr. Roman has been a senior study director for projects assessing transitional housing programs for homeless families; alcohol use among college students; measuring lack of health insurance in Massachusetts; using Audio-CASI techniques for gathering sensitive data; recruiting people aged 50 or older to take part in a clinical assessment of osteoarthritis; a study which recruited people 70 or older in the Boston area to take part in a longitudinal clinical study of pain and mobility and many others. Mr. Roman has developed random-digit dialed sampling strategies, address-based samples and has blended list sampling with address-based sampling to target specific demographic subgroups with greater efficiency. Mr. Roman teaches a graduate level sampling course for the University of Massachusetts-Boston’s Certificate Program in Survey Research Methods. Before coming to the Center, Mr. Roman was a Special Assistant within the Demographic Surveys Division of the U.S. Census Bureau. In this role, he investigated all types of non-sampling error in major national demographic surveys such as the Current Population Survey, the National Crime Survey, the Consumer Expenditures Surveys, the National Health Interview Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

Jeffrey J Marotta, Ph.D.

Dr. Marotta serves as President and Senior Consultant of Problem Gambling Solutions, Inc. He is an Affiliate Associate Professor at Oregon Health & Science University, and serves on the Board of Directors for Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare and the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling. In the 1990s Dr. Marotta served as a problem gambling treatment specialist and editor at the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming. From 2000 – 2007, Dr. Marotta designed, developed, and managed Oregon Problem Gambling Services, a state-wide system widely recognized as among the best. During this period he was also the chief advisor to the Oregon Governor’s Office, the Oregon State Lottery, and the Oregon Legislature on matters involving problem gambling and responsible gaming.. He has been the Principle Investigator in several studies including evaluating the social impacts of gambling expansion on local communities, evaluation of problem gambling outreach services, national surveys of problem gambling services, evaluation of problem gambling prevention programs, and the evaluation of casino and lottery responsible gaming programs. Dr. Marotta’s master expertise and influence in the problem gambling field is further exemplified by his numerous publications and national presentations. Dr. Marotta has a doctorate in clinical psychology and is an International Certified Gambling Counselor.

Philip S. Kopel, MA

Mr. Kopel currently serves as the Research and Data Director at the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling.  In this capacity, he collects, analyzes, and disseminates science-based findings concerning gambling and gambling-related disorders. Mr. Kopel has conducted market research within the gambling industry for more than 30 years. His career began in 1985 as the Manager of Marketing Research for GTECH Corporation analyzing retail agent site analysis and lottery game sales. He founded the Kopel Research Group, Inc. in 1989, and for in this capacity conducted qualitative focus groups and quantitative benchmark and tracking surveys for government sponsored lotteries, lottery vendors and advertising agencies throughout the United States. In 2009, Phil became the Director of Marketing Research for the CT Lottery Corporation where his analyses were used to support in-house product development, marketing and sales departments.  He earned an MA from Kent State University and a BS from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Thomas Land, P.h.D.

Dr. Land is the Director of the Office of Special Analytic Projects at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH).   His recent work has focused on the development of a public health data warehouse for the Massachusetts to guide policies and programs to address the opioid crisis. This work has brought together more than 40 partners from government, academia, clinical practice, and private industry to access and analyze health data linked at the individual level. In previous roles at MDPH, Dr. Land has managed the development of a generalized bi-directional e-referral system that links clinical and community settings, and modeling of health data related to obesity, heart disease, opioid use, and smoking. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Wyoming and his graduate work at The Johns Hopkins University.

Zi Zhang, P.h.D.

Dr. Zi Zhang is the Director of Research, Health System Performance, at the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis. He oversees the Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey and Massachusetts Employer Survey, and directs the agency’s analytic work on hospital readmissions and revisits. Previously, Dr. Zhang was the founding Director for the Office of Survey Research, Center for Health Policy and Research at University of Massachusetts Medicine School, overseeing a wide range of development and research functions in the areas of health service and policy research, and population health. Dr. Zhang also spent nearly 14 years at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, serving most recently as director of the Health Survey Program. In that role, he directed all aspects of the Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and significantly expanded the state’s public health surveillance capacity. Dr. Zhang served on the BRFSS Working Group at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), representing 13 states in the Northeastern U.S. He holds a Master of Public Health degree in biostatistics and epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He earned his medical degree at Shanghai Medical University (now Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University).

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