University of Sydney under scrutiny over gambling funding

University of Sydney under scrutiny over gambling funding

Critics say it could compromise research integrity.

Australia.- The University of Sydney has this week launched the Centre of Excellence in Gambling Research, after securing AU$600,000 in funding from the International Centre for Responsible Gambling (ICRG). The source of the funding has drawn criticism but the university and some researchers say will produce helpful research that limits harm to consumers.

Major funders of the ICRG include MGM Resorts International, Caesars Foundation, Bally’s Corporation, Sands Inc, Wynn Resorts, Boyd Gaming Corporation, DraftKings, FanDuel and poker machine company IGT. Its board of directors includes executives from US-based casino resorts. According to The Guardian, the ICRG also has support from Sportsbet and Entain. The latter operates the Ladbrokes and Neds brands in Australia.

Professor Sally Gainsbury told The Guardian: “This partnership is unprecedented and will allow us to translate research findings into effective real-world, evidence-informed strategies to prevent and reduce gambling-related harms.

“Our collaboration means gambling operators will share de-identified data on gambling behaviours and allow us to evaluate new interventions. Being able to create a dataset with a high level of detail on gamblers will be of immense value and has not been done before. This is a significant development in gambling research.”

In contrast, professor Sean Cowlishaw, a public health expert at Monash University’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, said the funding goes against recommendations from an inquiry into online gambling, the results of which were published in June.

According to Cowlishaw, the online gambling inquiry called on the federal government to “protect public policy from gambling industry interference.” He said “the decision of the University of Sydney to establish an industry-funded research centre is opposed to this idea.”

Tim Costello of the Alliance for Gambling Reform has called on the university to hand back the money.

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