East Carolina University has announced the creation of a new institute that will conduct research on trends in gambling, including the impact it has on communities and the rise in problem gambling behaviors.
The Gambling Research and Policy Initiative will be led by Dr. Michelle Malkin, an assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology at the Greenville school. It’s backed by $750,000 in funding from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. According to an ECU release, state funding on an annual basis also is expected.
Malkin, a leading expert on problem gambling issues, said she’s looking forward to increasing knowledge and awareness through the work the GRPI will produce.
“I never imagined I would have the resources necessary to build an interdisciplinary research team dedicated to making a difference in the gambling field and working to understand and potentially reduce the negative impacts of gambling — especially the prevalence of gambling-related harms,” she said.
Expanded Gaming Underway in North Carolina
The creation of the institute, which also will have an assistant director and several research assistants, comes as legal gaming is on the cusp of expanding. Lawmakers in Raleigh passed a bill in June to legalize online North Carolina sports betting across the state, and those online apps and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will launch sometime in the first half of next year.
In addition, the passage of the state’s budget was tied up as a proposal emerged to legalize commercial casinos and video gaming terminals statewide to go with the three tribal casinos already located in the state. That effort did not pass this year, but many expect the state legislature to reconsider it next year.
Malkin said the slower expansion will help position the state to have enough resources in place as new casinos open. The state also needs to know why the eastern part of the state, where there are no casinos and less access to other forms of legal gambling, still has a problem gambling rate exceeding 5%.
“Specifically in North Carolina, we need to conduct research to understand current gambling behavior, attitudes and risk, so that expanded legalization resulting in more gambling access does not negatively impact communities and families,” Malkin said. “Research will be able to show whether gambling prevalence and risk changes over time among different regions and demographics to help identify and target communities that need education, outreach or problem gambling services. The best programs are always well evaluated and based on empirical knowledge that can only be gained through rigorous and continued research.”
Initiative Will Have National Scope
The work conducted by the institute also will go beyond the state. One of its projects will include the development of a national voluntary self-exclusion repository.
“This initiative will allow the state to monitor trends and develop resources to create meaningful changes for people whose lives have been impacted by gambling,” said Amanda Winters, the problem gambling administrator for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “The impact this initiative will have on the national, state and local level is unmeasurable." Make sure to bookmark BetCarolina.com for news developments as NC sports betting apps get set to launch in 2024.