Main Recommendations of NGISC to The US Congress
Taking the 15 federal and 4 state research recommendations in their totality, the Commission is trying to gauge the positive and negative outcomes of governmental (tribal and state) and private sector legal gambling. In virtually every past instance, what proponents and opponents offered as research was usually advocacy and not objective data produced by impartial sources. That must be remedied.
The research recommendations to Congress and to the states will produce knowledge that policymakers need to answer thousands of questions they will be asked in the first decade of the new millennium.
8.1 The Commission recommends that Congress encourage the appropriate institutes within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to convene a multi-disciplinary advisory panel that will help to establish a broad framework for research on problem and pathological gambling issues within its range of expertise.
8.2 The Commission recommends that Congress direct the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or other appropriate agency, to add gambling components to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. To understand the expanding dimensions of problem and pathological gambling nationwide, gambling prevalence studies need to be of sufficient volume and with annual updates to record changes brought about by expanding legalization, greater accessibility, technological advances and increasingly sophisticated games. This survey would examine not only the general population, but also sizable subgroups such as youth, women, the elderly and minority gamblers, if no other more appropriate longitudinal studies focusing on each of these groups are available.
In any event, no data gathering pursuant to these recommendations should violate any person’s right to medical privacy in seeking treatment for problem or pathological gambling.
8.3 The Commission recommends that Congress direct all federal agencies conducting or supporting longitudinal research panels to consider the feasibility of adding a gambling component to such surveys and, where appropriate, entertain applications to add such components that are determined to be of high scientific merit through scientific peer review. In addition to addressing gambling behavior, these components should include questions about treatment-seeking behavior, in order to begin to address the issue of the unmet need for treatment, which is currently unknown.
8.4 The Commission recommends that Congress encourage the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to issue a revision of the special research program announcement for research applications on pathological gambling to foster research designed to identify the age of initiation of gambling, influence of family and correlates with other youth high-risk behavior such as tobacco, alcohol and other drug use, early sexual activity and criminal activity evaluated separately for illegal and legal forms of gambling.
8.5 The Commission recommends that Congress direct the appropriate institutes of NIH to invite, where appropriate, applications for supplemental funds to add legal and illegal gambling components of high scientific merit to appropriate and relevant existing surveys, and to issue a revision of the special program announcement for research applications on pathological gambling to include the following
areas: — Effects on family members, such as divorce, spousal and/ or child abuse, severe financial instability and suicide.
— Analysis of public awareness education and prevention programs offered at federal, tribal, state or corporate levels.