UK Study: Gaming Research in Thrall to Industry

Objective research into gaming’s social impacts is largely non-existent in Great Britain, according to a new report. The problem, it says, is that the gaming industry funds most of the research.

A new study by the University of London criticizes what it calls a “cozy club mentality” between the gaming industry, government and researchers that is hampering honest analysis of the social effects of gambling in the UK.

The problem, according to the findings by the university’s Goldsmiths College, is the dependence on the industry for funding, which has resulted in a dearth of independent research.

The study was compiled from three years of testimony from researchers and members of the industry and zeroes in on the Responsible Gambling Trust, which pays for much of the research being conducted and is funded by gaming operators.

One member of the industry who testified said, “I’ve never known anything like the way that some of these gambling academics are in bed with the industry,” an assessment echoed by many of the more than 100 insiders who gave testimony.

“The gambling world suffers from what I would call a cozy club mentality,” as another member of the industry termed it. “There is a lack of challenge between various parties and therefore the overall governance of gambling, particularly in Britain, is kind of weak because people aren’t grappling with one another in a way that could actually ensure greater safeguards and more meaningful policymaking.”

One academic said she chose not to complete research that was critical of the industry. “I was really scared about potentially annoying the industry and then getting my reputation trashed, because I saw that happen, and it really was horrible. So I had a choice, say everything is fine. In other words, lie.”

Rebecca Cassidy, the study’s lead researcher, said, “Instead of placing the blame for so-called ‘problem gambling’ at the feet of the individual, they should instead focus on how the industry and the state benefit from certain policies.”