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New research centre tackling gambling opens at UBC

WATCH:  Today the Provincial Government opened a new research facility at UBC for gambling. Jeremy Hunka reports.

A new research center opening its doors at the University of British Columbia will aim to study the psychology of gambling and help those with a gambling addiction.

The B.C. government and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) both contributed financially to the creation of the centre; however, the university says the centre will operate “with complete academic independence” from BCLC or the gambling industry.

At the helm of the new centre is leading gambling psychologist Luke Clark, who says the centre will focus on understanding the psychology of gambling games and problem gambling.

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Civic advocate Sandy Garossino with non-partisan group Vancouver Not Vegas says Clark is someone who is highly respected in the field.

But Garossino says a lot of the issues around gambling are already known and understood.

WATCH: Keith Baldrey joins Chris Gailus to talk about the opening of the Center for Gambling Research at UBC.

“I am not sure how much new information we are going to be getting from Dr.Clark’s research,” she says. “It is going to be interesting, but policy wise, I don’t know if it is going to answer the questions we need answered.”

Garossino says while it may be unrealistic to completely eliminate casinos in British Columbia, there are things that could be done to minimize the impact of gambling on people’s lives.

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The new centre will feature a “Casino lab” equipped with slot machines and other games to measure players’ behavioural and physiological responses under controlled conditions, and study the motivations and mindsets that lead to problem gambling.

The UBC MRI Research Centre will also help to measure heart rates and scan brain responses.

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