The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has awarded a renewable contract to a University of Massachusetts Amherst team to continue groundbreaking research into the socioeconomic impacts of introducing casino gambling in the state.
The new funding - about $1 million a year for three years, with two annual options to renew - will enable researchers with the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) study, based at the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, to complete an unprecedented, comprehensive, 12-year investigation.
"This will continue to be the longest-lasting study of the impacts of the introduction of a new form of gambling in a jurisdiction," says lead investigator Rachel Volberg, a UMass Amherst research professor who has studied gambling and problem gambling across the world for more than three decades. "What's going to be most interesting going forward is being able to have a fine-grained understanding of the disparate impacts that introducing different kinds of casinos has on communities that are differentially at risk of experiencing gambling-related harms."
In 2013, the Gaming Commission chose the UMass consortium, which includes the UMass Donahue Institute, the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center and colleagues at the University of Nevada Reno and the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, to carry out the robust research agenda mandated by the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act.
The wide-ranging research began with community profiles and baseline population studies to depict gambling behavior in Massachusetts before any of the casinos opened. "The baseline survey allows us to monitor trends over time and to inform stakeholders of what the state looked like before casino gambling in Massachusetts, which then allows for a real assessment of impacts," Volberg says.
Volberg also is spearheading a separate Massachusetts Gambling Impact Cohort (MAGIC) study funded by the Gaming Commission. It is the first major study of its type in the U.S. MAGIC researchers are examining how problem gambling develops over time. Goals include identifying populations in Massachusetts who are at higher risk of problem gambling and experiencing gambling harm, which will help in developing data-driven prevention and treatment programs in the state. Related Stories
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