Main Conference – Program Abstracts

Schedule, Session Topics and Summaries

Click here for speaker bios.

Thursday, November 5
12:15pm – 1:00pm Election Implications (for Gambling) – Brendan Bussmann
An interview with government affairs expert and strategic advisor Brendan Bussmann on the implications of the national and local elections for sports betting, internet gambling, tribal gaming and other related issues like the Wire Act. He will discuss the results of three state referenda to legalize sports betting, gambling expansion initiatives in Colorado and Nebraska, and key state gubernatorial shifts that may impact gambling legislation and regulation.
1:00pm – 2:00pm The Heart of Problem Gambling: Compassion and Self-Compassion in Treatment, Public Awareness and Responsible Gambling – Lori Rugle, PhD, ICGC-II, BACC
I was recently asked by an experienced counselor in the field of substance use disorders, how to address her countertransference reaction to a client with a gambling disorder who was ruining the finances of his family beyond repair.  The counselor stated that she just felt very angry in hearing the story of this client.  This incident reminded me of the stigma associated with gambling disorder and the difficulty among the public and even among behavioral health professionals of generating compassion for the suffering of those with this disorder. The presentation explores strategies for developing and sustaining compassion in our treatment, advocacy and responsible gambling efforts. It also helps individuals and families addressing gambling problems to rely on self-compassion and compassion as part of the recovery process.
2:15pm – 3:00pm Innovative Prevention Strategies to Engage Priority Populations: The Massachusetts Ambassador Project – Victor Ortiz
This workshop will highlight the Innovative Prevention Strategies to Engage Priority Populations: The Massachusetts Ambassador Project.  It was conceptualized as a peer-based, community-centered, participatory, and culturally responsive approach to reach populations at highest risk for problem gambling and engage them in prevention discussions through individual-, group-, and community-level interactions. The Project trains men of color with a history of substance misuse to become Ambassadors who lead conversations about problem gambling prevention in their community by expanding their knowledge of problem gambling and strengthen their leadership and workforce development skills. The Ambassadors reach out to organizations and institutions to establish collaborative partnerships in order to access peers at high risk of developing problem gambling. This model fosters self-efficacy and peer to peer sharing, while increasing knowledge and awareness of risks related to problem gambling. The presentation provides participants the opportunity to learn about this model along with important considerations led by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Problem Gambling Services.
3:00pm – 3:45pm When Money is too Easy: Social Responsibility in a World of Payment Innovations – Judith Glynn
Technology is revolutionizing the ways players access funds to gamble, and credit card restrictions won’t begin to address the related risks because money-related technological innovations implemented at every level of the gambling industry make are difficult to track. Instead of bringing greater transparency, many innovations blur the line between cash and credit, and increasingly obscuring our view of what is happening and who is responsible for ensuring that players are informed and supported for safe play. Combining a review of the (scant) literature and jurisdictional scan, this session will: shine light on recent technologies and practices related to how customers access funds to gamble; review risks these innovations may pose; and highlight some equally innovative approaches to address those risks. Money management innovations to be reviewed include: – e-Commerce platforms, – pre-paid e-Wallets, and virtual payment programs e.g., Amazon, Apple, Google – Virtual currencies, – Cash kiosks that transcend financial institutions, offering instant access to all available cash and credit. For example, approximately 50% of ATM withdrawal requests on the gaming floor are declined due to insufficient funds. New payment processing practices will turn a declined ATM withdrawal request into a sales pitch for instant credit. These practices are successfully and dramatically increasing the amount of money on the gaming floor. In a structured format, participants will be asked to discuss: – Risks posed by money-related innovations – Who should assume responsibility for ensuring player health is considered – What should be done to keep players safe!


Friday, November 6
12:15pm – 1:00pm Impact of COVID-19 on Gambling – Alex Price, PhD
This presentation provides a high-level overview of the key findings from “Online Gambling in the Midst of COVID-19: A Nexus of Mental Health Concerns, Substance Use and Financial Stress”, a study conducted by Dr. Alex Price. The research analyzes online gambling and public health trends in Ontario, Canada during the first pandemic “lockdown.” Dr. Price will also provide observations on trends in the United States as well as other developed jurisdictions.  Finally, he will discuss how his research findings are informing responsible gambling practices and future research.
1:00pm – 2:00pm The State of Sports Betting – Steve Ruddock, Dustin Gouker, Sara Slane, Joe Weinert
Sports betting represents the largest and fastest expansion of gambling in our nation’s history. Hear from operators, lobbyists and advocates about the latest developments in sports betting legislation and regulation at the state level.  Review the impact of new sports betting partnerships between leagues and casinos and media. Forecast the future.
2:15pm – 3:00pm Regulators Roundtable on Responsible Gambling – Steve Crosby, Enrique Zuniga, David Rebuck, Becky Harris
The panel will discuss how leading regulators approach responsible gambling, partnerships with industry and advocates, and emerging issues like cashless payments and data-driven approaches.
3:00pm – 3:45pm Sexual Minority Veterans and Gambling: Cultural Considerations – Noel Elrod, PhD; Heather Chapman, PhD, ICGC-II, BACC
Individuals who identify with a minority gender and/or sexual orientation identity (GSM individuals) show increased rates of chemical addiction and other mental health concerns. However, a paucity of research exists related to the prevalence or characteristics of process addictions, specifically Gambling Disorder, within this population. While one study has shown higher rates of internet/gaming addiction but similar rates of Gambling Disorder within GSM populations, a separate study suggested that rates of problem gambling may be higher in sexual minority individuals. Furthermore, a 2005 study suggested possible sex differences in the relationship between sexual orientation and problem gambling. Importantly, none of the aforementioned studies explicitly included current military members or military Veterans. GSM individuals are somewhat overrepresented in the military (6.1% vs. 4.5% in the civilian population) and thus in Veteran populations. Additionally, military Veterans are among populations known to be at increased risk for Gambling Disorder. Therefore, sexual orientation minority Veterans may be at increased risk for Gambling Disorder and may require more nuanced care. Given that members of the GSM community face discrimination within the healthcare field, as well as barriers to treatment generally (and addiction treatment specifically), increased knowledge related to specific characteristics of Gambling Disorder within the GSM Veteran population is important for the provision of culturally competent care.


Thursday, November 12
12:15pm – 1:00pm Athletes and Gambling Problems: Risk, Recovery, Prevention – Lesa Densmore
Some populations pose a high risk of developing gambling problems and athletes are one of them. Because of the competitive nature and continuous emphasis on competition, an athlete will often engage in gambling like a game of skill rather than the game of chance that it is. An athlete who is at high risk of developing gambling problems will respond to a gambling win and loss in the same manner they do in the sports arena. Because of the “game one” mind-set, if an athlete begins to gamble it can take as little as one win to get hooked, and one loss to want that win back, strategizing and eager for a re-match with a gambling loss, and wanting more with a gambling win. This is how the cycle to addiction can begin. The session will provide participants an understanding of the athlete-problem gambling connection. Combining lived experience and formal training, the presenter will share her story while discussing the risks for athletes and coaches as well as recovery and prevention.
1:00pm – 2:00pm What Is the Impact of RG Frameworks? Sarah Ramanauskas, Martin Lycka, Tracy Parker, Betsy Bradfield
Providing independent assessment of an operator’s responsible gambling performance is a powerful tool for providing safer gambling. Operators, NGOs and most importantly players all benefit. Learn from global leaders in this panel about how standards and assessment frameworks are developed and the benefits for all stakeholders.
2:15pm – 3:00pm Making Outreach a Priority: Louisiana’s Approaches to Increasing Awareness – Suzanne Bourgeois, JD; Christopher Hebert, JD; Kenneth Saucier; Robert Henson
The presentation will review Louisiana’s approach to providing free gambling prevention and treatment statewide. It will include the types of outreach efforts, such as the use of social media, multi-partner initiatives, and ‘like and share’ media campaigns. The goal is to increase awareness of disordered gambling with both the citizens of Louisiana and with clinicians, which includes providing education about the importance of gambling screening and the resources available within our already established infrastructure. In addition, we will discuss our innovative partnership with the Louisiana Office of Attorney General, Gaming Division’s Problem Gambling Resources Services (PGRS) program, which was established to further educate and create awareness within all aspects of the legal community about the gambling resources that are available. Assistant Attorney Generals also provide information about resources for attorney’s who struggle with problem gambling, as well as the many varied legal issues that may arise when clients struggle with problem gambling.
3:00pm – 3:45pm Social Media Gaming and Wellness Behaviors of College Students – Carolyn Hawley, PhD; Laurie Cathers, PhD; Amy Armstrong, PhD
Research on social gaming and its impact is in its infancy. It is a topic of growing interest, with some conjecture that participation in social media games, including simulated social media casino games, may enable gambling and problem gambling behaviors. The purpose of this presentation is to share the results of a study that examined social media gaming and simulated gambling utilization among undergraduate college students from an urban university (N=400). The social gaming patterns of these college students and potential associations between their gaming patterns and outcomes such as academic performance, health, and wellness behaviors will be described. Strategies for designing effective messaging targeting college students to prevent problems related to gaming will also be discussed.


Friday, November 13
12:15pm – 1:00pm Till Prison, Insanity, or Death Us Do Part, How Gambling Addiction Almost Destroyed My Marriage – Roger Olsen
Roger Olsen will share how Gambling addiction almost destroyed his marriage and affected his three children. The session will be done as a narrative using the Gambling Recovery Charts for both the gambler and the spouse. Also, sharing how Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon were effective in restoring his marriage along with counseling; and how all three programs were able to work together. Roger still attends Gambling Anonymous and just received his 25-year pinning.  The Gambling Charts handout for both the gambler and the spouse will be available.
1:00pm-2:00pm Bridging the Gap for Latinx Gamblers: Introducing a Culturally Responsive Treatment and Engagement Model – Alexia DeLeon, PhD; Julio Iñiguez
Latinx communities are steadily impacted by gambling, even surpassing their counterparts in some states. A culturally responsive engagement and treatment model for Latinx communities impacted by gambling has not currently been produced. The traditional, Western treatment models available to providers are not always effective in engaging and treating the Latinx population. There are many barriers faced by the Latinx community when seeking services for gambling treatment, and a culturally responsive model is necessary at this time. The presenters will introduce their culturally responsive treatment and engagement model for Latinx communities impacted by gambling. The model illustrates how to connect with  Latinx communities early on in the treatment process by focusing on strategic community engagement, establishing rapport, trust building and the therapeutic relationship, all work that is done prior to the treatment process. This model also highlights the logistical side of the t process, focused on billing and reimbursement structures within the OHA HSD (Oregon Health Authority, Health Systems Division) problem gambling services system in Oregon. This will be presented as a way for attendees to brainstorm how they might structure culturally responsive treatment for the Latinx community within their state. The introductory treatment model will cover culturally responsive modalities, interventions, and skills for working with the Latinx population impacted by gambling. Presenters and attendees will engage in a learning environment that fosters how to best respond to the immediate needs of the Latinx population, specifically relating to the intersection of the Latinx community and gambling treatment.
2:15pm-3:00pm A New Measurement Instrument to Assess Problematic Social Casino Game Play – Vivien (Wen Li) Anthony, PhD; Devin Mills; Lia Nower, PhD
The proliferation of social casino games (SCG) across media technologies are a growing concern, as studies have shown that recreational SCG play is associated with gambling and problem gambling. However, few investigations have examined problematic SCG play and the relationship to problem gambling, due in part to the absence of a validated measure for problematic SCG play. SCG is a type of video game that features gambling elements. Therefore, symptoms of problematic SCG play may include elements of both problem video gaming and problem gambling. This study developed and examined a new measure, the Problematic Social Casino Gaming Scale (PSCGS), in 436 SCG players (57.34% male; M = 30.59 years old). Exploratory factor analysis revealed a single-factor structure that was further supported by confirmatory factor analysis. The PSCGS also demonstrated high internal consistency. Latent profile analysis of the PSCGS classified participants into three groups, representing low, moderate and high levels of problem severity. Players classified as high severity played SCG more frequently, were more likely to spend money on SCG, and evidenced greater severity of problem video gaming and problem gambling than other players. Collectively, results provide initial evidence of the psychometric properties of the PSCGS and characteristics of problematic SCG play. This workshop will identify key features of SCG, including those that are also common to gambling, and contextualize the implications of this new instrument for the identification and treatment of problematic SCG play as well as its utility for policy development and research on this emerging issue.
3:00pm-3:45pm Media Impact – Mina Hazar; Adela Colhon; Alex Kleynhans
The creation of more media channels via internet has created more advertising opportunities for gambling and ‘although adolescents possess the ability to evaluate advertising, and are aware that they are unrealistic, they are still heavily influenced by them’ (Derevensky et al., 2007). This presentation looks at themes used in gambling advertisements to target youth, discusses the impact of gambling advertisements on attitudes and behaviors and explores gambling in social media as well as impact of social media influencers on youth gambling behaviors. This presentation introduces a gambling awareness tool developed to discuss media and gambling advertisements in an interactive way and provides strategies to verify credibility of content on social media platforms and encourage critical thinking before sharing content.