The University of Sydney's industry-funded gambling research raises conflict of interest concerns

Updated:2024-03-25 13:36    Views:116

The University of Sydney's recent announcement of the Centre of Excellence in Gambling Research has raised eyebrows due to the substantial financial backing it has received from gambling companies and associated groups, totalling over AU$800,000 (US$511,676). 

The centre's primary focus will be on studying gambling behaviour and methods to minimise harm.

This partnership with major gambling operators has drawn attention to potential conflicts of interest.

The collaboration will allow live trials and interventions to change gambling behaviours, causing some experts to voice concerns about the impartiality of the research.

The International Centre for Responsible Gaming (ICRG) will contribute AU$600,000 over three years.

The ICRG receives financial support from gambling and resort entities, leading critics to question the independence of the research.

Entain Australia, the operator of Ladbrokes and Neds, will contribute AU$180,000,Online Casino Games while Sportsbet and the Australian Research Council's Life Course Centre will provide AU$50,000 and AU$100,000, respectively.

Sally Gainsbury, the lead researcher for the new centre, expressed optimism about the partnership's potential to overcome previous research limitations.

However, gambling expert Samantha Thomas from Deakin University voiced concern.

She said: "Industries that contribute to harming the health of the public but also have a clear profit motive should have no role at all in research or policy development." 

Despite the assurances of the University of Sydney's ethics committee oversight, experts like Thomas argue that to maintain true independence and integrity, research concerning industries with a clear profit motive should be entirely disconnected from their funding sources.

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