New funding extends impact of UBC’s Centre for Gambling Research

Luke Clark in the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC

A renewed investment of $1.36 million over five years from the B.C. government and BCLC will allow the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC to continue its research to reduce harms related to gambling.

“The B.C. Government supports UBC’s Centre for Gambling Research as it does important work on player safety and responsible gambling,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “It’s research that the government values as we are committed to a public health approach to preventing problem gambling.”

The Centre for Gambling Research launched in 2014 with an initial $2 million from the B.C. government and BCLC that covered startup costs and operating expenses for the first five years.

In that time, the Centre has led 35 research papers that were published in peer-reviewed journals, secured grant funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and trained more than 30 graduate students and undergraduate research assistants.

The renewed funding will support plans that include:

  • using a new brain scanner at the UBC Centre for Brain Health to study the role of the dopamine system in people with gambling addiction;
  • strengthening links with the B.C. Responsible and Problem Gaming program in order to influence best practices in treatment;
  • anticipating future trends in gambling technology, including the convergence of gambling with video gaming.

“We thank the Province and BCLC for their renewed pledge of support,” said Gage Averill, dean of UBC’s faculty of arts. “This valuable partnership is advancing our collective understanding of gambling psychology and helping to reduce the potential harm associated with gambling. At UBC, we are proud to host one of the few centres providing evidence-based support for improved gaming policy while strengthening training and education around gambling.”

“This renewal shows a sustained commitment by the government and the BCLC to reducing the harms that are associated with gambling in British Columbia.”
UBC Centre for Gambling Research

“This renewal shows a sustained commitment by the government and the BCLC to reducing the harms that are associated with gambling in British Columbia,” said Luke Clark, director of the Centre. “The renewal of this core funding is an endorsement of the importance of our research and the progress that we’ve made since the Centre was established five years ago.”

Clark, who received a 2015 Scientific Achievement Award from the National Centre for Responsible Gaming, has guided the Centre in its collaborations with colleagues in UBC’s departments of psychology, psychiatry and ophthalmology, and the David Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.

The Centre’s three core programs involve the study of modern slot-machine games, markers of problem gambling in the online environment, and neurobiological measures in people with gambling problems.

“BCLC is focused on being accountable for the products and services we offer, and committed to keeping players safe,” says Jim Lightbody, president and CEO, BCLC. “Our efforts are bolstered by the findings and insights led by the UBC Centre’s team, and we are honoured to continue supporting its industry-leading research for the years to come.”

The Centre for Gambling Research operates with full academic independence from the government, BCLC and the gambling industry.

This story was originally posted on UBC News.