What You Need To Know
- The Gaming Act allocates significant resources to the areas of research and problem gambling.
- When fully operational, a Public Health Trust Fund will count with $15 – $20 million annually to study, allocate, prevent and treat problems associated with problem gambling.
- This will make Massachusetts the state in the U.S. that dedicates the most resources to this area.
The Public Health Trust Fund
The Gaming Act established a Public Health Trust Fund, which will be used to support social service and public health programs dedicated to addressing problem gambling and related issues, including research, prevention and treatment. This includes the annual research agenda. However, the Public Health Trust Fund cannot be established and endowed, until fees are assessed to gaming licensees and funds collected from taxes on category 1 (resort-casino) gross gaming revenues.
Although the Public Health Trust Fund is not yet in place, Section 71 requires the MGC to conduct a Baseline Study of social and economic impacts as well as ongoing research on gaming in the Commonwealth. Since the Baseline Study necessitates collecting data ahead of the granting of licenses, the MGC elected to allocate resources from its general operating budget to fulfill this statutory requirement.
Public Health Trust Fund Executive Committee
MGC and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on July 24, 2014, and established an Executive Committee of the Public Health Trust Fund. The MOU authorizes the Executive Committee to set an annual budget for expenditures from the Public Health Trust Fund, which includes funding for the annual research agenda.
The co-chairs of the Public Health Trust Fund Executive Committee are MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby, and the Department of Public Health Associate Commissioner, Lindsey Tucker. Other members of the Executive Committee include Beth Bresnahan, Executive Director of the Massachusetts State Lottery; Rebekah Gewirtz, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association; and Anne Powers, Undersecretary for Law Enforcement, Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The Committee is staffed by Mark Vander Linden, Director of Research and Responsible Gaming for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and Victor Ortiz, Director of Problem Gambling Services for the Department of Public Health.
Gaming Research Advisory Committee
To additionally help guide research matters, the Commission convened an informal Gaming Research Advisory Committee (GRAC). This Committee is staffed by MGC Director Vander Linden. The GRAC functions as an informal peer review committee to advise on methodology, monitor research efforts currently under way and make recommendations to advance the ongoing agenda.