The University of Massachusetts Amherst


SEIGMA/MAGIC Research Highlighted in Recent CT Mirror Article

May 18, 2021 -- Springfield, MA. Massachusetts' ongoing gambling research, carried out by the SEIGMA and MAGIC teams, is highlighted in a recent article from the CT Mirror entitled "Bay State confronts problem gambling in ways CT does not." Read the full article here

Massachusetts passed casino authorization legislation in 2011 with the first, Plainridge Park Casino, opening in 2015. The casino legislation included a progressive research agenda requiring periodic surveying of the social and economic impacts of gambling in the state. Since 2013, the SEIGMA and MAGIC teams based at UMass Amherst have been tasked with undertaking this crucial research. However, player data collected by the casino operators has yet to be made available to resarchers.

Rachel Volberg, SEIGMA/MAGIC Primary Investigator, sees this an an opportunity for researchers to better understand players' gambling behavior in the hopes of developing advanced tools to help those who may have problems with their gambling.

"As a researcher, frankly, my feeling is that all that data that those operators collect should be turned over to the regulators and made available to researchers to try and figure out what kinds of tools could be developed to help people who are getting into trouble,” Volberg said. “It’s required in the statute in Massachusetts. It hasn’t happened yet.”

No only does Massachusetts have an aggressive reserach agenda, it is also one of the few state regulators which requires a responsible gaming program be present in all the casino properties in the state. In Massachusetts, GameSense helps players understand more about gambling (debunking gambling myths, explaining the odds of the games, etc.) and how to better manage their gambing experience. As Amy Gabrila, a GameSense advisor with the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health, explained "The industry is riddled with misinformation ... I"m going to tell you what the truth is. And I hope that makes you more able to make an informed choice." 


MAGIC Webinar -- March 31, 2021

The Massachusetts Gambling Impact Cohort (MAGIC) study is the first major cohort study of gambling in the United States. The study collected data from the same people at five time points between 2013 and 2019 which spanned the opening of Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield. The SEIGMA/MAGIC team is currently working on a comprehensive report to provide summative findings from all waves of the study.

To disseminate these important findings, the SEIGMA/MAGIC team held a two-hour event from 10am – 12pm on March 31, 2021 to coincide with Problem Gambling Awareness Month. The event began with a one-hour presentation of preliminary findings by MAGIC Co-Principal Investigator, Rob Williams. This presentation was immediately followed by a one-hour panel discussion with invited panelists representing problem gambling research and prevention activities across the Commonwealth and moderated by MAGIC Co-Principal Investigator Rachel Volberg.

A PDF of the presentation can be found here

A video recording of the webinar can be found here

Questions and Answers from the webinar can be found here

March 9th, 2021 is the 8th Annual Gambling Disorder Screening Day

March 09, 2021 -- The SEIGMA project is a proud supporter of the 8th Annual Gambling Disorder Screening Day hosted by the Division on Addiction at the Cambridge Health Alliance. 

Available through the Division on Addiction's website, the Screening Day Toolkit includes many free online tools and resources, including a customizable Screening Day Flyer, the BBGS e-Screener (Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen) and one-page articles, What Is Gambling Disorder? and Why Screen for Gambling Disorder?

We hope you will decide to screen this year and make use of these free, online tools!

Rachel Volberg invited to provide commentary on banking transactions and gambling harms publication

February 4, 2021 -- Rachel Volberg was invited by Nature Human Behaviour to provide an expert commentary on a new publication, led by Naomi Muggleton at the University of Oxford, that uses banking transactions to understand gambling harm. The research publication, "The association between gambling and financial, social and health otucomes in big financial data", was published today in Nature Human Behaviour. Dr Volberg's commentary can be read here

Rachel Volberg invited to serve on inaugural Lancet Public Health Commission on Gambling

January 8, 2021 -- Rachel Volberg has been invited to serve as a member of the newly-formed The Lancet Public Health Commission on Gambling. On January 1, 2021, The Lancet Public Health announced the formation of this commission in an editorial which outlined the need for addressing gambling-related harms through the lens of public health in "response to an urgent, neglected, understudied, and worsening public health predicament". "The Commission will focus on the political and corporate determinants of harm, the epidemiology of gambling harms, including examining inequalities, interventions to reduce harms, and critical appraisal of regulatory, political, and public health responses to gambling." Dr. Volberg will serve on the Commission for 2 years. The full editorial can be read here with commentary here

Dr. Volberg's participation in this Commission has also been profiled by UMass Amherst's School of Public Health and Health Sciences News. Read the full story here.  

UMass Amherst reports Encore construction spending stayed local

December 24, 2020 -- Everett, MA. The Everett Independent reported on the Encore Boston Harbor construction report SEIGMA's Rod Motamedi presented to the MGC during an Open Meeting on December 17, 2020. Read the full article here

Development of the Gambling Disorder Identification Test: Results from an international Delphi and consensus process

November 21, 2020 -- Rachel Volberg co-authored a new publication in the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research entitled "Development of the Gambling Disorder Identification Test: Results from an international Delphi and consensus process". To address the overarching issue of variations of measures in gambling treatment studies, an expert committee of gambling researchers convened in 2004 at the Alberta Gambling Research Institute's 3rd Annual Conference, an annual independent gambling conference in Banff, Canada. The result, known as the Banff consensus agreement, was a major step forward in the conceptualization of a framework for minimal features of treatment outcome measures. From this, a process was initiated to develop the Gambling Disorder Identification Test (GDIT), as an instrument analogous to the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test and the Drug Use Disorders Identification Test. The current publication provides preliminary construct and face validity for the GDIT. Full-text of the article can be accessed here

SEIGMA Public Research Day Webinar - October 14, 2020

If you were unable to attend our 2020 Public Research Day Webinar, please find the presenation and video files below: 

Presentation (PDF)

Webinar Video (YouTube)

Executive summaries and full reports will be published to the SEIGMA website after having completed their full review at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. 

No Increase In Problem Gambling Seen After MGM Springfield Casino Opens

October 16, 2020 -- The opening two years ago of the first Las Vegas-style casino in Massachusetts – MGM Springfield – boosted the local and state economy, provided job opportunities, and did not increase rates of problem gambling. These were the key findings of new research released this week.

Listen to the interview with Rachel Volberg here

No boost found in problem gambling from MGM Springfield

October 15, 2020 -- Amherst 

Two years after MGM Springfield became the first resort-style casino in the state, data and surveys indicate that the region and city have seen economic benefits without a corresponding increase in problem gambling or at-risk gamblers, according to reports issued this week by researchers at the University of Massachusetts. The findings, from what is called the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) group, show that the casino, which opened in August 2018, has stimulated the local and statewide economy and increased job and educational opportunities for a diverse workforce.

Read the full Daily Hampshire Gazette story here