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January 29, 2014

Day Three Wrap-Up and Closing Remarks

How time flies when you’re having fun, networking, attending insightful speaker sessions and enjoying delicious meals with your new RG colleagues! Today we conclude the 2014 New Horizons in Responsible Gambling conference but not without first acknowledging some of the many highlights from day three. Dr. Jessalynn Strauss’ early morning session explored the world of Corporate Social Responsibility in a gaming context. She stressed the importance of analyzing relationships and communicating with relevant stakeholders, especially when developing responsible gambling programs. In another session, Dr. Claudia Steinke spoke about the physical design of gaming facilities and how this affects players and facility employees. Her background in healthcare provided a unique perspective offering new considerations for future facility configuration.

New for 2014 was the Poster Session and it proved a great success. Students from several prominent universities, including a group from the University of British Columbia (UBC), displayed posters outlining their innovative research. Several posters examined the role the study of rats has played in providing new insights into neurological behavior as it relates to gambling. The Toronto based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Parisa Hedayatmofidi’s poster on the ‘Opposing Effects of Controllable and Uncontrollable Stress in an Animal Model of Gambling Behaviour’ took the prize for best poster. Parisa received up to $1000 in funding towards future registration, travel or accommodation costs at a conference related to gambling. Michael Barrus and Melanie Tremblay of UBC won the runner-up prizes of $500 towards registration, travel, or accommodation costs at future conference related to gambling. From the turnout at the poster session and the dialogue that took place, the session definitely provided delegates an opportunity to learn from some up and coming researchers in the gambling field.   

Prior to lunch, Dr. Ken Winters was able to break down complex adolescent brain chemistry during his presentation on development and gambling addiction. Post-buffet, the Social Casino Games plenary led by Dr. Sally Gainsbury and Mr. Keith Whyte covered the popular topic of social gaming that has captivated the gambling industry. Defining social casino games as gambling-themed games, accessed via web/mobile & connected to a social network, Dr. Gainsbury explored whether social games could potentially help educate players about responsible gambling and reduce the desire to gamble in a problematic way.

To conclude the conference, an interactive session provided delegates an understanding of what responsible gambling really means to players. Real players participated in a focus group allowing for honest answers and open conversation. Paul Smith closed the conference emphasizing the importance of the knowledge, experience and research shared over the last three days. He highlighted that speakers and delegates had come from around the world to share best practice and learn from one another. With the announcement of the Centre for Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia, Paul anticipates the industry in Vancouver and beyond will continue to strengthen. He thanked delegates, sponsors and speakers for coming to Vancouver and apologized for the typical foggy and rainy weather that delegates had to endure (but on the bright side, at least it was an authentic Vancouver experience!).  

That wraps-up a wonderful three-days at New Horizons… well almost, delegates are now off to Grouse Mountain to dine in the clouds. Here’s hoping for clear weather for our guests so we can show them how beautiful Vancouver can be!