Thursday, 25 June 2015

The call for greater integrity in gambling research

Researchers are calling for the introduction of internationally recognised principles to guide gambling research, in order to protect the integrity of research from the interests of industry and governments benefiting from gambling.

SPHPM’s Dr Charles Livingstone discussed the close relationship between governments, the gambling industry and gambling research in a paper recently published in the leading journal Addiction.

Dr Livingstone said that research in the space, where the distinction between industry and researchers is blurred, can be politically dangerous. 

“When an organisation legislates, regulates and derives revenue from the operations of gambling, they are conflicted in the commissioning and funding of research. Too often we see a lack of quality diversified research, and on the nature of the harms derived from gambling products.” 

To combat this, researchers have recommended the implementation of five ‘principles for integrity in gambling research’ to be endorsed by the field:
  1. Research should not be funded by the proceeds of gambling
  2. Research priorities should not be influenced by the beneficiaries of gambling
  3. Conferences and other research fora should not be influenced by industry
  4. Funding sources must be disclosed in journals at conferences
  5. Meaningful access to products and environments must be a part of licensing.

“Governments need to consider the insights gained from tobacco and alcohol industries in order to avoid industry-influenced research that fails to address fundamental policy and public health issues.

“We see this already with the ‘responsible gambling’ mantra which simplifies the problem faced by many in society, by putting the blame solely on individuals and not the industry or gambling products and their wide availability,” Dr Livingstone said.

Researchers are promoting the principles to all public health and gambling scholars, and other interested parties, to gain momentum and support for a code of conduct or charter for gambling researchers in the future.

Dr Livingstone said that they will also work to convince governments and relevant institutions to adopt considered policies on gambling research, as they have with tobacco and alcohol.

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