New Research Center Aims Telehealth at Gambling and Gaming Addiction

mHealth Intelligence
New Research Center Aims Telehealth at Gambling and Gaming Addiction
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- A Tennessee-based telemental health company is launching a research institute aimed at using telehealth to treat people living with gambling addiction.

Kindbridge is teaming with Playtech, a UK-based gaming technology company, to open the Kindbridge Research Institute, “to create an evidence-based teletherapy model for gambling and gaming disorders.” The Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University has been commissioned to build the telehealth model.

“The centralized approach that we are taking to offering telehealth services to the gambling community is giving us an inside look at the demographic of individuals and family members that suffer from gambling problems on a scale that should allow data scientists, academics and researchers to gain more insight than ever before,” Daniel Umfleet, CEO of Chattanooga-based Kindbridge, said in a press release.

“Kindbridge is the first treatment agency in the US that is exclusively focused in these areas, and delivering treatment we can test for effectiveness fills an unmet need in this time of rapid expansion,” added Lia Nower, JD, PhD, a professor and director of Rutgers’ Center for Gambling Studies and lead researcher on the study.

Roughly 10 million people have an addiction problem because of gambling, according to a 2016 survey by the North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction Help, and it’s costing the US economy $6 billion per year. The issue is growing, too, due to casino expansion in several states and the growth of the online gaming industry.

Kindbridge is looking for participation in the program from a wide range of organizations, including federal and state regulators, the casino industry and NGOs. Officials say they hope to have a model program in place in 18 to 24 months.

“The Research Institute will be able to analyze player data to better understand the origins of disordered gambling and gaming behavior, alongside outcome data from the Kindbridge clinical network,” the press release notes. “This will enable the Kindbridge Research Institute to gather a detailed picture of the player journey – from the origin of the problematic gambling or gaming behavior, through to what has the greatest impact on outcomes for those seeking help.”