In 2011 an expanded gaming law was enacted in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. After much debate between supporters and opponents alike, it has been decided by the people of this state that this law should stay in place. One of the key features to the expansion of the law was that a study needs to take place to determine the economic, as well as any social impacts of allowing casino gambling.

Many ideas and opinions, both pro and con, regarding gambling come out of myth, self-interest, and anecdotal information, so, it is important as far as the state is concerned, to establish the facts. The only way to truly establish fact is by conducting scientific research. Therefore a study on the impact in gambling in Massachusetts has been given birth.

A research team is composed of members from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, University of Lethbridge – Alberta, and as the expansion of this gambling law affects Massachusetts, teams from UMass Amherst, and UMass Donohue Institute. What the study intends to establish is a comprehensive analytic baseline that policy-makers can use to have a better understanding of how expansion of this gambling law will affect the state.

This is a huge project with a cost of $5 million for the first two years. It will take place throughout various phases where variables such as potential negative, as well as positive e consequences will be measures. A 10 000 person sample survey is currently being analysed, and will hopefully be able to offer some valuable insight.

The information extrapolated from the survey from will be made public, prior to casinos opening their doors to the public. Once casinos have opened their doors, the intention is to repeatedly review data, and establish if gambling facilities opening in the state have had any good or bad social, and or economic impact. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will make all research public on their website, which seems to be the responsible thing to do.

Another two projects are also attached to the research agenda, and will nearly complete this gambling study. A certain amount of individuals (2 600) will be tracked over a five year period to glean more understanding of gambling risk profiles. Another anonymous study, will analyse player card data for better understanding of gambling behavior.

Both the Legislature and the Governor of Mass have stressed that this is not where this study stops. It will be a work in progress. Once casinos have opened for business the new gambling legislation provides for $15 – 20 Million per annum for more research, as well as prevention, and treatment programs for problem gambling. Fundamentally, the state is identifying any potential problems before they have even appeared, rather than finding themselves in a situation where damage control is required.

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