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Canada – Centre for Gambling Research opens in British Columbia

By - 20 November 2014

Probing the psychology of gambling, helping problem gamblers and enhancing gaming policy are key goals for the new Centre for Gambling Research at UBC, which opened in mid-November.

The Centre, one of only a handful of such research hubs globally, is headed by leading gambling psychologist Luke Clark who joined UBC this year from the University of Cambridge.

Established with $2m in funding from the B.C. government and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), the Centre will operate with complete academic independence from BCLC, the government and the gambling industry.

“This facility will transform gambling research in British Columbia,” said Luke Clark, the Centre’s inaugural Director. “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 ultimately result in healthier communities.”

Centre highlights include a “Casino lab,” which hosts slot machines and other games, to measure players’ behavioural and physiological responses under controlled conditions. With these tools, Clark’s team will study the motivations and mindsets that lead to problem gambling.

The Centre’s approach includes measuring heart rates and scanning brain responses in conjunction with the UBC MRI Research Centre. Other collaborations and partnerships are planned at UBC and throughout the province.

Upcoming research projects include in-person interviews with gamblers at Lower Mainland casinos, and recruiting problem gamblers to aid the Centre’s study of decision-making.

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