In a paper recently published in the leading journal Addiction, Dr Charles Livingstone from Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine discussed the close relationship between governments, the gambling industry and gambling research.
“Research in this space, where the distinction between industry and researchers is blurred, can be politically dangerous,” Dr Livingstone said.
“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. These detail the complete separation of gambling proceeds from funding gambling research, thorough disclosure in research publications, maintaining distance between academia and industry, and access to gambling products and data by researchers in order to conduct accurate research.
“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 would also work to convince governments and relevant institutions to adopt considered policies on gambling research, as they have with tobacco and alcohol.