PHOTOS: Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health Host Gambling Research Conference

On Tuesday, May 14, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (Commission) and the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health (Council) hosted a one-day conference, which convened experts from healthcare, academia, industry, and government focused on responsible gaming and research. Initiated by the Commission, which has the most comprehensive regulator-supported research program in the country, the conference highlighted the potential to establish a game plan to promote healthy play, strengthen consumer protections, and provide consumers with essential resources.  

In bringing together diverse stakeholders for this conference, organizers underscored the priorities underway in the states across New England and the focus necessary to impact the national conversation on responsible gaming.  

Gambling is legal across the United Sates in different forms, from lottery and casino gambling to sports wagering, which has been legalized in 23 states and the District of Columbia since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2018. However, gambling doesn’t just exist in legal markets and didn’t only begin with legalization. Research presented during the conference illuminated how the black market has proliferated gambling for decades before legalization without regard for potential consequences or consumer protections. The benefits of legalization and regulation of gambling are the ability to ensure strong protections for those who choose to gamble and the ability to work between regulators, industry, and other stakeholders to understand the impact of these activities.  

Dr. Rachel Volberg presents key findings from the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts and the Connecticut Impact Study. (Photo: Massachusetts Gaming Commission)

“Sports wagering and gambling are here as are the benefits those industries bring such as entertainment, jobs and revenue, but addiction is real and the harms to those suffering and their loved ones is devastating,” said Massachusetts Gaming Commission Interim Chair Jordan Maynard. “This group of stakeholders – regulators, industry, healthcare professionals, and academics – coming together is how we can address the issues impacting our residents. By committing to what works, and putting funding behind research and programs that have a real impact, we can help those in need and continue pushing the national conversation forward.”

Sessions focused on a range of gambling research, including developing player support tools such as Voluntary Self-Exclusion; how sports betting unintentionally impacts youth, college students, and families; and an evaluation of the GameSense program, which Massachusetts utilizes to support casino, sports wagering, and horse racing patrons. Programs also touched on insights from individuals in the recovery community and discussions on a path forward for gambling research and responsible gaming initiatives.  

“The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is committed to researching the impacts gambling has on the state and region to inform policy making,” said the Commission’s Director of Research and Responsible Gaming Mark Vander Linden. “Our goal is to make this research available to stakeholders and policy makers across the country so we can learn together and help provide the most impactful services and programs for those who choose to gamble and their loved ones.”  

MGC Research & Responsible Gaming Director Mark Vander Linden speaks during the joint MGC and MACGH Gambling Research Conference. (Photo: Massachusetts Gaming Commission)

The conference closed with a note that the regular exchange of ideas is needed to continue momentum and bring about tangible programs that can be replicated across the country. The Commission will continue to look for opportunities to highlight and mobilize research.  

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