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The Public Health Costs Of Gambling, Part 1

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
October 30, 2014 12:00 pm

The Public Health Costs Of Gambling, Part 1

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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October 30, 2014 12:00 pm

In Part 1 of a two-part series, NC Family president John Rustin talks with Elaine Meyer, Associate Director of Communications for Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, about a recent article she wrote for Columbia’s 2X2 Project, “Gambling With America’s Health? The Public Health Costs of Legal Gambling.”

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This is family policy matter program is produced by the North Carolina family policy Council of profamily research and education organization dedicated to strengthening and preserving the family video here is John Rushton, president of the North Carolina family policy Council, thank you for joining us this week matters. It is all pleasure to have Elaine Meyer with us on the program.

Elaine is writer and associate editor on the 2 x 2 project at Columbia University's mailman School of Public Health. She also serves as the associate director of communications for the Department of epidemiology at Columbia University's mailman School of Public Health Elaine's offer of an article for the 2 x 2 project entitled gambling with America's health, public health, cost of legal gambling were gonna be talking with Elaine about that article and how gambling impacts public health in a Disney dimension before we begin that the views Elaine shares with us today or her own and not the abuse necessarily of Columbia University. Elaine, thanks so much for being with us on family policy matters.

Thanks so much for having me. Well, we appreciated and appreciate your time telling what led to your interest in writing about the public-health cost of gambling. That department will be a Martin visit researcher who focuses on gambling addiction and when she came in a couple years ago I started noticing her studies and I thought that increasing you know you don't see a lot of research about gambling addiction, especially in epidemiology and that which is focused on looking at population level causes of diseases and disorders so I thought while it would be really useful to write an article about the subject and I thought it would be interesting to you in particular, look at it as an issue of balancing health concerns with economic concerns with economic benefit. So I actually went into the article, assuming that gambling legal gambling had only economic benefits because of jobs and things like that and tax revenue but the research I did really really changed my view on that. So that's how it all began. Interesting. I would expect that individuals both in academia and outside of academia may start out from the same standpoint would very often we have seen that after folks dig into the issues and they they understand all of the implications of legalize gambling falls and have a change of perspective in the article you quoted an expert who says that the increase in gambling addiction is one of the nation's biggest public health problems. In your opinion, why don't we hear more about the public-health cost of gambling really important question and I think there are a few reasons having to do with the influence of the gambling industry and some having to do with that with just that stature of public health in our society. First of all, one reason I think is there just isn't a lot of public-health research in this area compared to drugs or alcohol addiction research like what types of populations are most likely to become addicted to gambling either certain environments where gambling addiction is more common.

Things like that and the National Institutes of Health, which are the majority of public health research they'd don't actually have a national center that funds research into addictions that are drug or alcohol addiction. So they have a center for drug addiction center for alcohol addictions but if somebody wants to do it gambling addiction study. They typically have to tie it into drug or alcohol addiction. I think it I think researcher nice book with seem to think it would be more useful if the NIH had a broader way to fund addiction. The second reason I think that the public-health aspect of gambling isn't really widely discussed is that the American gaming Association, which is a trade organization for casinos and like slot machine manufacturers. They fund it will be funded research center called the national Council for responsible gambling and date they will tell you that that honor is independent from them, it had a scientific review Board and that is all true.

The thing is about that organization. They fund research into gambling addiction that look mostly at neuroscientific brain activity type studies and correlates into gambling addiction so that tends to focus the research or that tends to focus the attention on the person, the individual and kind of thing didn't make it seem that gambling is something ill just in the head of of the addict and made a few studies that look at the relationship between the availability of gambling addiction, but they really have have not hunted the lottery a lot of kissing thing is that the American Public health advocacy Institute was a legal advocacy group had sexy criticized the gambling industry for their role in the research that they fund saying that they kind of.

It led to the minimization of the public-health issue of gambling so that that's kind of interesting side note, and another thing I think is just public-health to having difficult time in general getting a hearing in this country a public health perspective on you like addiction.

Our society tends to focus on how to cure the individual with pills and things like that which is is useful, but it's not the only way to think of of health issues and speaking of addiction nature.

Your article does address the fact that video machine gambling, especially electronic slot machines are particularly good. Tell us about today's slot machines while they are considered to be the most addictive form of gambling.

In fact, they have been referred to by some gambling experts as the crack cocaine of gambling. What is that I forget you so book to read about.

This is called addiction by design machine gambling in Las Vegas by Natasha Daschle and she's cheesy authority on this, but what what she says and what at what I read from her and other experts is that slot machines are engineered to play to the brain's reward center make a point of distinguishing between the old slot machine that a lot of us who don't gamble picture would have the one arm kind of lever so-called one arm bandits and the new electronic slot machines.

The old slot machines if you pulled the lever and you got you lined up three symbols and they were all lined unity.

Sadie got out orsomethingthenyouwouldwinifthosesymbolsdidn'talign.Youwouldn'twin,butinthenewslotmachinethereactuallymultiplelotmultiplelinesandyoucanwinmanydifferentways.Butiftheyputin$0.50andyouwinmaybe25linessoyouwin$0.25butyoustillyoustilllost$0.25akindofthewayslotmachinesordesignmakesitlikeyouwanteventhoughyou'velostmoney,andthatstimulatesthebrain'srewardcenterandtherearen'talotofbreaksthereagitated.Verylittlebreakbetweenbetweeneachmoveandsothatalsoquickensthekindoftheaddictiveaspectsofitanditincreasestheaddictiveaspectthattheywere.Youplaypokerorblackjack.Therearemorebreaksbetweenwhenthedealerre-dealsandthingsthatandthereareeventhingslikeergonomicchairsthatareavailableforthatcasinosputonthesemachinestokeepplayersascomfortableaspossiblesoit'sit'spretty.IwouldsayInearedfromwhatIenterwillandIhavecertainlyinterviewedbecauseoftheemotionalaboutherbrothersreportsandinclearly,essentially,everythingaccordingtoherstudy.Herresearchinherreport.Everythingaboutthegamblingcasinopaternally.Gamblingcasinoswithfocusonvideopokerorelectronicslotmachinesordesiretokeepthegamblersthereaslongaspossibleandtoprovideanenvironmentthatenticesthemtocontinueplayinganditmakesofthetripisattractivetothemaspossiblesothattheywillallofthesegamblerswilltowhattheindustrycallsplaytoextinctionorbasicallytothepointthattheyhavenomoneyleftitsveryinteresting.Ithinkimportantforfolkstounderstandalloftheergonomicsofthedesignofmachines,whichtriggerstheenvironmentaswellasthesoundsandthelightsandeverythingisdesignedtokeepplayersplayingasmuchaspossible.Nonotablearticlethatithastakenthepublic-healthcommunitywalltobegintorecognizegamblingasanaddictionsimilartothatofadrugandalcoholaddiction.Whatyouthinkthatisyoureadthisoneisinourculture,wetendtoseeaddictionassubstancebasedspecialtydrugs,alcoholandcigarettes.Sotheideaofabehavioraladdictionlikegamblingishardforpeopletowraptheirbrainsaroundandwetalktheirotherbehavioraladdictionsthathavebeenproposedthatthey'renot,theyarenottechnicallyconsideredaddictions.Accordingtothediagnosticstatisticsmanual,butthingslikeshoppingaddictionorTVaddictionandpeoplekindofspeakofthosejokingly.SoIthinkgamblingkindafallsunderthatsamecategory.Eventhoughitisinconsideredaaddictivediagnosis.Accordingtothemost.Itwasclassifiedthatwayin2013.AlthoughIshouldpointoutthatmentalhealthprofessionalshavesaidforyearsthattheyseetheyseethesamebehaviorinproblemgamblersastheydoinpeoplewithdrugoralcoholaddictions.Thingslikefinancialproblemsorbankruptcymaritalstrife,suicidalthoughts,thingslikethat.Andasforwhythepublic-healthcommunity.Inparticular,maynotbeawareofgambling.SowhatI'mIthinkitgoesbacktowhatImentionedearlierthatnotalotofgrantmoneygoestofundthisresearchandanotherissuethatacoupleofsourcespointedouttomeisthatoldestsoassomeviewersmayknowgamblingrevenueorgetthereasonmystatesupportcasinosisbecausetheygetsomeoftherevenuetogointothetaxestogototheirrevenueforsomepeoplepointedoutthatthisiskindofaconflictofinterestthatstatesaresodependentongamblingrevenuethatitgivesthemlessincentivetofundpublichealthprofessionalswhowouldlookintogamblingandonepersonIspokewithformyarticlewasaretiredepidemiologistactuallyfromColumbiatohastriedtogetvariousNewYorkStateagenciestodoastudyofgamblingpatterns.OnceNewYorkifandwhenNewYorkbuildscasinosandhesaidthere'sjustbeennointerest.It'sbeenveryhardtogetanyoneinterested,eventhoughNewYorkhadgonepublic-healthresearchnotesupportcomparedtosomeotherstatewerenearlyontopofthisweek.ListenersgotogetacopyofyourOraclegamblingwithAmerica'shealthpublic-healthcostoflegalgamblingandaskingiftheycangotothe2x2project.organdthatthatyouaskedtoproject.organdthenit/gamblingpublichealththetoolbartoproject.organdDAGthenumbertotheXnumbertwoproject.organdwecertainlyknowthatmanyofourlistenerswillbeinterestedtovisityourwebsiteandreadyourreportandonemoreaboutthis.ThisisinitiatedthenuclearfamilypolicyCouncilcaresdeeplyabout.WehavebeenworkingtoeducatelawmakersandthepubliconthemyriadofnegativeformsassociatedwithgamblingandparticularlyaswehavetheprospectsofyetanotherIndiangamblingcasinocroppingupinourstate'stopIndiannationissuccessfulwiththeirapproachwithwhichwecertainlyhopethey'renot,butIthinkthatthisinformationisisreallyinformativeandveryimportantforfolksparticularlymostcommunitiesunderstandsowewilldefinitelyencouragethemtolistentothisshowaswellasavailthemselvesoftheinformationonthe2x2.Project.awardee:thankyousomuchforbeingwithusonfamilypolicymattersandforsharingyourinsightsonthepublic-healthcostofgamblingwithJohnyouandanyandprinttheworkthatyou'redoingagamblinglittlepleasureinman.Weappreciateyoutearingupaboutthisistospendyo,forinstantupdatesonprofamilynewsofinterest.FollowusonTwitteratMCfamilyohorgyagainthatatNCfamilyfamilypolicymattersisinformationandanalysisoftheNorthCarolinafamilypolicyCounciljoinuswithadiscussiononpolicyissuesaffectingthefamily.Ifyouhavequestionsorcomments.919708visitourwebsiteandseefamily

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