Research professor of epidemiology Rachel Volberg has been invited to serve on “The Lancet Public Health” Commission on Gambling for an 18-month term running through the summer of 2022. She joins an international, multidisciplinary group aiming for transformational change in policy and political action.
“The Lancet Public Health” announced the launch of the journal’s inaugural Commission on Gambling in its January 2021 issue, citing the need for “scientific inquiry and response to an urgent, neglected, understudied, and worsening public health predicament.” Regulators and legislators have struggled to keep pace with the rapid development of the commercial gambling industry, they note, adding that “Online gambling and its marketing remain poorly regulated in many nations and the risks posed by expanding commercial gambling, and specifically online gambling, are high, especially due to the lack of support mechanisms for those most impacted by gambling harms.”
The commission will apply a public health lens to gambling-related harms, examining the multiple intersections between the social, commercial, and political determinants of health.
“I am honored to have been invited to join ‘The Lancet Public Health’ Commission on Gambling which represents a significant milestone in the recognition of gambling as a risk-based and health harming product,” says Volberg. “Our goal is to thoroughly consider the global issues related to gambling and to set forth internationally relevant recommendations that governments can adopt to protect populations from public health harms of gambling.”
Volberg, who has studied gambling and problem gambling across the world for more than three decades, is the principal investigator for the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) research project. Funded by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the SEIGMA team is completing an unprecedented 12-year investigation of the socioeconomic impacts of introducing casino gambling in the state. Volberg also spearheads a separate Massachusetts Gambling Impact Cohort (MAGIC) study funded by the Gaming Commission. It is the first major study of its type in the U.S. to examine how problem gambling develops over time.
“The Lancet Public Health” is among the family of “The Lancet”journals addressing urgent topics in society, initiating debate and putting science into context. The journal seeks to contribute to advancing health equity, public health practice and policy making worldwide.