With one of America's gambling centers located in Atlantic City, N.J., it's no wonder that a university located in the state has taken up the study of gambling. Rutgers University announced this week that it has established an academic center to help scholars study gambling from every angle and in all its forms from casinos to poker to online gambling.
"Gambling is here to stay," said Lia Nower, Center for Gambling Studies director. "People have done it forever, and they'll continue to do it."
She added, "Our task is to make sure we maximize the entertainment value and economic benefits while minimizing the potential harm to those who don't know when to stop."
To achieve this, the Center for Gambling Studies has established three main goals. The first is to foster inter-disciplinary and international research on issues related to gambling. That includes legal, sociological and ecological issues.
"There is considerable debate and research about gambling - as a business, as a policy issue, and as a social or personal problem," said Richard Edwards, dean of the School of Social Work at Rutgers.
He added, "But there aren't many places in the country that take a multidisciplinary approach to studying gambling and its effects on individuals and society. We want our center to do that."
The second goal is to create a "policy consortium" of experts from the industry, government and academia who will study specific gambling issues. The consortium will publish regular reports on their research.
Nower hopes that research gets widely publishes, and not just in academic journals, so the center can become a source of objective, expert information for New Jersey and elsewhere.
"People need to understand how gambling works and what its effects are, and they need to hear about those things in clear language," Nower said.
This is especially important since various forms of gambling have become legalized all over the United States in recent decades. The nation has seen it become easier to access gambling as well as seen a rise in popularity of some forms of gambling such as poker.
Nower pointed out that Internet gambling and Texas Hold'em poker tournaments have exposed a younger generation to gambling as well.
With that exposure comes an increased chance for more people to become gambling addicts. The Center for Gambling Studies will be working on that as its third goal.
The center will train clinicians and educators in the prevention, identification and treatment of youth and adult problem gambling. It will offer a continuing education certificate program and a treatment center.