Integrity without extinction: paths forward for gambling research

Abstract

Livingstone & Adams [1] are responding to what is apparent to anyone with some familiarity with the gambling literature: that for much of the research the orientation and research questions have been constrained by the influence of the funding sources. In countries which I know well the gambling field is unusual in the high proportion of its funding which comes from agencies or interests with a vested interest in the gambling market. There are two main reasons for this imbalance. First, gambling is not a central interest of primary research funding bodies, and of the academic establishments they serve: it is peripheral to medical research, and on the fringes of concerns of academic social science. Therefore (even more than for alcohol and other drugs), it is difficult to gain funding through general research support mechanisms. Secondly, gambling research money comes from bodies which are connected strongly to organizations involved in promoting or preserving the market. It has almost always been a form of ‘conscience money’, often as a counterbalance in the course of legalizing previously prohibited forms of gambling. However, despite this provenance the funding bodies, including government authorities (e.g. [2, 3]), have often exerted control on what research is conducted, defining research agendas in ways compatible to market interests.

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