For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
For more information, contact
Dr. Guy C. Clark
National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling
For more information, contact:
Dr. Guy C. Clark, Chairman NCALG
Federal gambling ‘Superfund’ study needed
“The pool of information is getting so poisoned it’s going to take a superfund to clean it up,” says Dr. Guy C. Clark
who chairs the National Coalition Against Legalized
Gambloing, charged the leading gambling research facility at
become the academic apologists of the industry. The gambling industry funds
them, and the gambling industry is getting its money’s worth. But it’s time for
that to stop,”
American Gaming Association and its minions have trotted across the country
citing ‘peer reviewed’ propaganda they claim proves they don’t cause addiction,
bankruptcy and crime. Most people know better, but politicians use
industry-funded disinformation to justify gambling expansion,”
“There has been no pause in expansion other
than moments won by dedicated anti-gambling activists. There has been some
significant research showing the impacts of gambling, but the gambling industry
has paid for its own studies. The AGA even set up its own front organization,
“They pay one group to verify the work of another paid group and call that ‘peer review.’ In reality, they have gambling lackeys vouching for gambling apologists.
executives trot about the country quoting their tainted fabrications to
legislators and communities. They say there’s ‘no proof’ of gambling’s social
costs. Well, let’s open the books and look,”
study commission must have subpoena powers this time,” according to
ATTACHED: Story from NCALG
e-newsletter, the Bet’s Off Bulletin.
Harvard :The Best Name Money Can Buy
Harvard, the venerable institution
founded in 1636, is among
association, the phrase “Harvard says,” becomes powerful validation, even when
followed by statements Harvard didn’t really make, or, perhaps, was paid to
say. Thus it follows that when one of
American Gamingb Association (AGA)
opened shop in
The AGA became the propaganda machine for the commercial casino companies that funded it. The casinos faced tough questions from politicians and anti-gambling groups as gambling proliferated across the nation in the early 1990s.
Those questions intensified in 1996, when Congress funded the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC). Despite gambling’s expensive attempts to stack the commission and its success in stripping it of subpoena power, the commission’s final report in 1999 posted strong warnings about gambling expansion. It called for a “pause” in the expansion of gambling until more information on addiction, bankruptcy, crime, job cannibalization and other topics could be studied.
gambling proponents were already staging their response. The same year the
NGISC started its research, casinos founded their own “gambling research”
The site notes, “Today, with the contributions of the casino gaming industry, equipment manufacturers, vendors, related organizations and individuals, more than $13 million has been committed to the NCRG, an unprecedented level of funding for gambling research. This financial support has enabled the NCRG to attract the best minds from the most prestigious institutions to conduct research in this uncharted field,”d (Emphasis added.)
They boast the group is run by scholars and health care professionals, but it is chaired by professional lobbyist and former Congressman Dennis E. Eckart, with William Boyd, chairman of Boyd Gaming, serving as president, and the AGA’s senior vice president and executive director, Judy Patterson as secretary-treasurer. Only five of the 21 remaining directors represent health care or academic organizations. The rest are all gambling executives or lobbyists.
the five is Howard J.
Shaffer, Ph.D. Director, Division on Addictions,
Gambling interests funded the NCRG with, according to their own accounts, $13 million. Of that they have contributed $6 million to “research,” with that funding now going exclusively to the Harvard Project.
insists the NCRG board exercises no control over its research, but at least two
noted treatment experts left the NCRG board because of their concerns about
just such problems. Both indicated the NCRG would not likely allow researchers
to tackle the big issues of proximity, high-speed addiction of machines and
other factors that could be damaging to the industry.
Clinical psychiatrist Dr. Henry Lesieur from the
Still, Harvard’s addiction department continues to disburse grants to other research applications. With Shaffer as editor and other Harvard staff on the editorial board, The Journal of Gambling Studies, served as a prestigious gathering point and filter for research. Harvard editors in turn spent considerable ink “debunking” other contributed research. As an adjunct to its publishing efforts, Harvard distributed the WAGER, an online review of current topics between 2004 and 2005. The typical WAGER review comprised an outline of a study’s premise, followed by the study’s findings. Typically the last WAGER paragraphs were dedicated to a repetitive disclaimer that results were not conclusive because of sample size or some other weakness.
classic example was the August, 2002 examination of suicides and their relationship
to gambling. “Do Casinos have Casualties? Mixed Evidence for
a Gambling-Suicide Link.” Why Harvard would choose to review this study,
which it concluded was inconclusive and flawed in many regards, is unclear. The
Harvard editor dismissed the study’s results for a number of reasons,
including, “relationships between gambling settings and suicide rates
could potentially be due to common features that influence suicide other than
casino presence. For example,
That would be interesting if it were true. Nevada ranks 44th in the nation for population over 65.f Nevada has ranked first in the nation in suicide rates for 10 of the last 14 years, never coming in lower than fourth.g In suicides per capita it was surpassed recently by Montana, which has more video lottery terminals and Gamblers Anonymous chapters per capita than any other state in the nation.h
Still, AGA spokesman Frank Fahrenkopf traverses the country announcing that “peer reviewed “ studies have “failed to prove” a relationship between gambling and suicide. In AGA logic, having “failed to prove” an assertion is equal to a “proof” of its antithesis.”
Fahrenkopf and his peers have deceived numerous legislators with illusions of “peer reviewed” studies that “prove” there is no correlation between gambling and crime, no correlation between casino proximity and addiction, and that gambling takes money away from other businesses.
Harvard’s addiction department is not the only tool of the gambling industry. The university’s renowned Kennedy School of Government is deeply connected to Native American organizations dedicated to the economic and political development of Indian reservations. Unfortunately, those organizations have adopted the NIGA mantra of gambling as the “New Buffalo” which will elevate the reservations to the status of economically and politically independent nations.
Again, the “Harvard” brand is a deliberate purchase of the gambling tribes. In 2003, just after Time Magazine published a blistering expose on the status of Indian casino development, NIGA commissioned Harvard to produce a study deliberately designed to show the benefits of Indian gambling.
News reports at the time quoted Deron Marquez, chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians saying, “NIGA’s fellow trade organization, the AGA, constantly produces numbers to help its cause. The data bolsters policy decisions and helps make problems go away. Our study would allow the same to take place.”i
The study was to be headed by Katherine Spilde, a former Director of Research for the NIGA, and an ardent proponent of gambling expansion. Spilde told reporters the study would help reverse “a bona fide public relations crisis,” for Indian gambling.
NIGA’s Marguez said the study would be “the centerpiece of a public relations campaign” to promote Indian gambling. “The PR and the research go hand in hand. The study will provide the necessary data, and the campaign the necessary visibility.”j
The study was funded to support an intended finding, with an advertising campaign as the intended result.
Spilde also played the “peer reviewed” card, noting the study would be “validated” by other academics. “A peer-reviewed report will have the highest integrity possible and insulate us from critics who may try to imply that funding from Indian Country has influenced the results,” she said.k
“Gambling industry lackeys vouching for gambling industry apologists,” fumes NCALG/NCAGE chairman Dr. Guy C. Clark. A dentist by trade, Clark said, “It reminds me of a mouthwash introduced some years ago with a claim that its in-house studies showed the product was highly effective at removing plaque. Later independent studies showed the product was ‘slightly less effective than water.’
motives look about as transparent as water too, no matter what they claim for
intentions. I would think they would want to be more protective of the school’s
a. Gatlin, Greg. “Harvard is hot in reputation, PR study says” Boston Herald, Oct. 20, 2004. Study by Boston Public Relations firm Morrissey & Co.
b. Gambling industry executives prefer the term “gaming” because it has better connotations than “gambling.”
c. AGA web site, http://www.americangaming.org/about/overview.cfm, April 10, 2005.
d. NCRG web site, http://www.ncrg.org/about/index.cfm, April 10, 2005. Emphasis added.
e. Mishra, Raja, Boston Globe, Nov. 6, 2004,
f .U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the
g. American Association of Suicidology, http://www.suicidology.org/associations/1045/files/2002FinalData.pdf
Anonymous meetings in
i. Smith, Rob, “Indian Gaming Study Should Answer Industry Foes” May 12, 2003,
‘It’s absurd . . .’
AGA adept at misrepresenting study results
The Miami Sun Herald recently found 137 references to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission Final Report on the web site of the American Gaming Association.
The commission’s former executive director, Timothy A. Kelly, said, “It’s absurd for the gaming industry to use our report to support their position.”
Kelly noted that the commission - which
comprised academics, family advocates, government officials and representatives
from the gaming industry - recommended a moratorium on expanding legalized
gambling in the
To date, he said, very little of that
research has been done. Government agencies lack the will to fund such studies
because politicians have become dependent on the taxes and campaign
contributions that come their way from the gambling industry, said Kelly, now a
professor of psychology at the Fuller Theological Seminary in
— Dolan, Jack and Hoad, Christina,
Magnificent casino largesse?
The American Gaming Association often boasts of their industry’s largesse in funding gambling addiction studies. They say they have contributed $8 million to “research” through the National Center for Responsible Gambling since 1996. That munificence amounts to almost 44 ten thousandths of one percent of the money they won from consumers. That’s 00.0044% at best. (AGA charts show customers lost nearly $181 billion to commercial casinos since the NCRG was formed. That does not count losses to Indian or government sponsored gambling.)