In a bid to better understand and correct gambling habits and addictive behaviours, British Columbia has opened a new lab to study the psychological effects of gaming.
With the opening of the brand new Centre for Gambling Research opened by The University of British Columbia, the researchers join a very small group of those working on the subject at hub facilities across the world. Luke Clark, the first director of the centre said, "this facility will transform gambling research in British Columbia."
Clark makes an excellent fit with credentials that give strong indication that the centre is in good hands, having led the largest pathological gambler study ever done in the United Kingdom. He was hired early on in 2014 in order to lead the centre's development up to and through it's official launch.
Luke Clark has given the mission statement for the Centre for Gambling Research a clear direction and purpose in order to use research to influence the path of future gambling policies and help programs in the province. He said, "our work will help us better understand the psychology of gambling games and problem gambling, which will bolster UBC's strengths in addictions research and ultimate result in healthier communities." The intent to directly impact gamblers is to increase the efficacy of treatment for addiction. The school has stated that included in future research will include the study of decision making through recruitment of gamblers with problems as well as interviewing people in the province's casinos.
True to it's roots, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation has used the profits from earnings in order to benefit the province through social programs. The BCLC worked with the provincial government to provide the initial $2 million in funding in order to furnish the labs not only with standard psychological analysis needs but also a full working lab complete with casino games, including functional slots. This will allow researchers to directly measure and observe player responses in a controlled environment and allow variables to be controlled, which cannot be done in a real-world setting.
This move to open a centre which deals exclusively with this issue comes in good time since the CBC and other news outlets have been reporting an alarming climb in the number of problem or highly-addicted gamblers in the province over the past few years. Late last year, there were claims made that the number of individuals at risk from this behaviour had doubled in the course of five years worth of tracking. This rise was given by a provincial health officer who claimed an increase from 13000 to 31000 people in this category between 2007 and 2013.
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