COLUMBIA, Mo. — Approximately 80 percent of the U.S. population has gambled at some point in their lifetimes. While the vast majority have gone home after a night of playing cards and not obsessed about the next time they will hold a hand of blackjack or see that royal flush, researchers estimate that nearly 4 million adults in the U.S. are addicted to gambling. Today, the national Task Force on College Gambling Policies released recommendations for college and university administrators to help prevent gambling addiction before it starts. A University of Missouri doctoral student is a member of the task force and has helped lead many of those reforms on the MU campus.
“Only 22 percent of college campuses have some type of policy that addresses gambling,” said Kristy Wanner, gambling prevention coordinator at MU and a doctoral candidate in Health Education and Promotion. “In comparison, previous research has shown that nearly 100 percent of college campuses have policies addressing alcohol abuse. While MU has implemented some of the recommendations of this national task force over the past two years, we are continuing our work to improve our gambling prevention efforts.”
The policy recommendations from the national task force include:
- Establish a campus-wide committee to develop and monitor a comprehensive policy on gambling.
- Identify and help students with gambling and alcohol problems.
- Make reasonable accommodations for students focused on recovery from a gambling or alcohol problem.
- Strengthen the capacity of counseling services to identify and treat gambling disorders.
- Promote campus-community collaborations that focus on reducing problems with student drinking and gambling.
- Create consistent and universal application of prohibitions and restrictions on gambling and alcohol use at special events.
- Encourage adjustments in disciplinary actions applied to violators of gambling rules if the student seeks assistance from health or counseling services.
The Task Force on College Gambling Policies was funded by the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG). The task force’s recommendations and additional materials are available on the NCRG’s Web site at www.ncrg.org.
“Gambling has been on our radar screen for a long time, not because we felt we had a problem, but because we have been watching the national trend,” said Cathy Scroggs, vice chancellor of student affairs. “We’ve been fortunate to have Kristy, who has done a good job making sure that we are aware of this potential problem. Her leadership has resulted in the implementation of several recommendations, helping our students to have all the information before making decisions that could, ultimately, impact their lives.”
Wanner leads “Keeping the Score,” MU’s statewide coalition program designed to support responsible gambling decision-making. The program supports a number of initiatives that help inform students, educators, parents, financial aid workers and student affairs professionals about gambling addiction on college campuses. The program combines several universities around the state, working together to educate students on the risks of gambling and warning signs of problems. By providing educational workshops, a Web site, awareness materials and presentations to campus organizations, the team is hoping to slow a national problem.
“Keeping the Score,” one of the only state-wide programs in the country, is funded by a grant from the Port Authority of Kansas City, Mo. Along with MU, the following schools are involved: Lincoln University, Missouri Southern State University, Missouri State University, Missouri Western State University, Northwest Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri State University, Truman State University, the University of Central Missouri, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Missouri-Rolla and University of Missouri-St. Louis.
University of Missouri News Bureau, firstname.lastname@example.org, (573) 882-6211
Contact: Christian Basi, (573) 882-4430, BasiC@missouri.edu