Funding of gambling research: Ethical issues, potential benefit and guidelines

Abstract

There has been an unprecedented growth of legalized gambling opportunities in Canada over the past two decades, partly to generate revenues without raising taxes. Unfortunately, for 2–3% of the Canadian population, gambling can become disordered (i.e. develop into a gambling addiction). To help attenuate the harms and prevalence of disordered gambling, all provincial governments earmark a portion of gambling revenues for the prevention, treatment and research into disordered gambling. However, the field of gambling studies has recently come under criticism in the way research is conducted. At the forefront of the criticism is the issue of accepting funding from the gambling industry. We provide an overview of the ethical considerations, potential ethical issues, and the possible benefits of accepting such funding. The aim of the present paper is not to argue for or against accepting industry funding, but rather to delineate the potential ethical issues and benefits related to that acceptance. More importantly, we provide a summary of best practice ethical guidelines, and recommendations to guide in the ethical decision making process in accepting or declining funding from gambling industry. To this end, we use the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists as a framework in which to situate our guidelines and recommendations. Given that Canadian researchers have a long history and continue to contribute valuable knowledge in the field of gambling studies, it is of important for gambling researchers to be aware of the ethical considerations and issues related to funding from gambling industry.

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