UMass Amherst researchers release new findings in groundbreaking gambling study

September 12, 2019

New findings released Sept. 12 from a groundbreaking gambling study by a University of Massachusetts Amherst research team show that out-of-state casino gambling among Massachusetts residents decreased significantly after the Commonwealth's first slot parlor, Plainridge Park Casino, opened in Plainville in the summer of 2015.

"That suggests that the slot parlor was successful at recapturing people who had been gambling in casinos out of state," says UMass Amherst epidemiologist Rachel Volberg, lead investigator of the Massachusetts Gambling Impact Cohort (MAGIC) study.

Conducted by the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) research team at UMass Amherst's School of Public Health and Health Sciences, MAGIC is the first major adult cohort study of gambling in the U.S., which examines gambling behaviors by surveying the same individuals over time. The study aims to uncover and understand populations at higher risk of experiencing problem gambling and gambling harm, and to support the development of effective and efficient treatment and prevention programs in Massachusetts.

The new report, prepared by lead author Alissa Mazar and presented to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission at its meeting in Boston, covers "Wave 3," a period from 2015 to 2016, before the state's two large resort-casinos opened in August 2018 and June 2019.

"Although this report focuses on results from before the opening of MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, we have already learned a great deal about how gambling problems among Massachusetts adults develop, progress and remit - information that will assist the Gaming Commission and the Department of Public Health in crafting the right mix of prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services to effectively minimize and mitigate gambling harm in the Commonwealth," Volberg says.

In another "very interesting finding," Volberg notes that people who gambled were unlikely to stop gambling over the three years surveyed so far. "That has implications for both prevention and treatment," she says. "On the prevention side, it suggests that it's important to provide people with tools to manage their gambling so it doesn't become problematic."

Other findings: "When you have people both developing a problem and remitting within a given period, that suggests problem gambling can be reduced by using some resources for treatment and some for preventing people from progressing to a more serious situation in the first place," Volberg says.

Conventional substance abuse and gambling treatment programs, which typically require people to abstain from their problem behavior, may not be the most effective treatment model, the study's data suggest. "Only 3 to 10 percent of problem gamblers ever seek professional treatment," Volberg says. "If you put up that abstinence barrier, it makes it very unattractive for someone who could benefit from the help."

The next MAGIC report, to be released in 2020, will examine the predictors of problem gambling over years and whether racial/ethnic, income, gender and/or regional differences exist in these predictors.

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to