A $2-million investment from the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) and the Government of B.C. will create a major new Centre for Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia to advance our understanding of gambling psychology and help reduce problem gambling behaviours.
The UBC Centre for Gambling Research will be one of a handful of its kind internationally. From slot machines and lottery tickets to emerging forms of online gambling, the Centre will study the social and behavioural aspects of gambling, provide evidence-based support for improved gaming policy and programs, and strengthen training for prevention professionals.
UBC will use the funds to recruit a global expert in the field of gambling research to lead the Centre, which will reside in the university’s Department of Psychology. This leading scholar will expand and leverage existing gambling research, which explores the relationship between rewards and human behaviour, gambling’s influence on our brains and risk-based decision-making.
The Centre adds to UBC’s internationally recognized expertise in addiction research – including pioneering projects on drugs and alcohol addictions – which aims to reduce the harmful impacts of addiction and build healthier, more resilient communities.
The Centre will operate with complete academic independence from BCLC and the gambling industry. Expected to launch in September, the Centre will support graduate and post-graduate research and training and offer undergraduate courses.
The funding is part of UBC’s start an evolution campaign, Canada’s most ambitious fundraising and alumni engagement campaign, which has raised more than $1 billion to date.
“British Columbia is a leader in responsible gambling strategies,” says Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas Rich Coleman. “This centre will provide the innovative research we need to ensure British Columbians have the best problem gambling prevention and treatment programs so they can enjoy gambling responsibly.”
“This centre’s research will help us tailor programs and support services to meet the specific needs of British Columbians, while advancing global understanding of this field,” says BCLC President and CEO Michael Graydon. “We are excited to be partnering with UBC’s Department of Psychology, recognized for excellence in Canada and around the world.”
“Gambling is a popular form of entertainment and a global industry that generates hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue, but for some it can be a problem,” says Gage Averill, Dean of UBC’s Faculty of Arts. “This centre, thanks to support from BCLC and the Province, will help to advance our understanding of gambling behaviours and create improved programs and treatments to help reduce the risk of problem gambling.”
“This will be one of a handful of centres worldwide dedicated to research on gambling psychology and problem gambling,” says Prof. Alan Kingstone, Head of UBC’s Dept. of Psychology. “Much of how gambling impacts our brains and behaviour is still a mystery – so there’s a lot of important work to be done on this issue.”
BCLC is a provincial Crown corporation offering socially responsible gambling entertainment while generating more than $1 billion in revenue to benefit health care, education and community groups across B.C.
UBC’s Department of Psychology is Canada’s top-ranked psychology department, currently ranked 12th globally. Attracting more than 15,000 students annually, its 47 faculty members work across the spectrum of psychology, including behavioural neuroscience, social and personality psychology, cognitive science, developmental, health and clinical psychology.
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