SEIGMA team contributes to Gaming Commission report to MA Legislature

Jan 24 2014
Rachel A. VolbergEdward Stanek
Co-Investigators on the SEIGMA project Rachel Volberg (left) and Edward Stanek (right).

The Social and Economic Impact of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) research team at UMass Amherst recently collaborated with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on their first annual report to the state legislature. The report, detailing the background of the project, research plan, progress to date, and future timeline, was approved by the MGC on December 3rd and submitted to the legislature on December 18th.

This first annual report offers a detailed summary of the SEIGMA team’s plans for researching impacts in three different areas: social and health impacts; economic and fiscal impacts; and problem gambling services. It also includes a summary of the progress the team has made so far to fulfill the MGC’s research agenda. Thus far, the MGC and the SEIGMA team have made significant progress in laying the groundwork for the wide scope of the research agenda. They have developed, pre-tested, and launched a general population survey and online panel, which was approved by the UMass Amherst Institutional Review Board. They have also created a detailed list of the range of measures that will be collected, tracked, monitored and presented over the course of the project. Throughout this process, they have collaborated and established agreements with agencies across the state, including the Massachusetts Council on Problem Gambling and the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services.

“The research currently being undertaken by SEIGMA is a significant step toward understanding negative or unintended impacts so we can strategically work toward mitigating them," says Mark Vander Linden, Director of Research and Problem Gambling at the MGC.

The findings from this project will be used in informing how funds from the Public Health Trust Fund and Community Mitigation Funds are expended. Both funds will be used to improve problem gambling services and advance the overall quality, effectiveness, and efficacy of prevention and treatment of gambling disorders. The study will all provide all Massachusetts stakeholders with data for strategic analysis and decision-making. A copy of the full report as well as an Executive Summary can be found here.

The SEIGMA project began in April 2013, when the MGC engaged a team based in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) to undertake a comprehensive research project on the economic and social impacts of casino gambling in Massachusetts. The SEIGMA project is crucial to the MGC’s legal requirement to establish a yearly research agenda and make scientifically-based recommendations to the Massachusetts legislature.