Luke Clark to Head UBC Gaming Research

Luke Clark has led gambling addiction studies in the U.K. He says neurological studies may help experts understand the psychology of disordered gambling.

The University of British Columbia has announced that Luke Clark, a psychologist at Cambridge University who led the U.K.’s largest study of pathological gamblers, will be the first director of its Centre of Gambling Research.

Clark, who has specialized in gambling addictions for a decade, said he was “thrilled” to join UBC. “The objectives are to reduce the harms associated with gambling and affect policies to make treatment more effective,” he said.

The province is contributing $2 million to the facility along with the B.C. Lottery Corporation. It has faced criticism for not doing enough to support and treat gambling addiction.

Last year, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall reported that although the province’s revenue from gaming increased to more than $2 billion in 2012 from $1.4 billion in 2002, it has spent just 0.4 per cent of that on problem gambling treatment. His report said there are 31,000 program gamblers living in the province.

Clark said there are many similarities among problem gamblers in the U.K. and British Columbia. According to Canada Metro News, he hopes research into the brain activity of gamblers at play will help professionals better understand and treat addicted patients.

Clark will lead the academic and operational activities of the Centre beginning July 1.