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portrait of Russell A. Sanna, PhD, Executive Director of the National Center for Responsible Gaming

All American Sports Betting Summit Speaker Interview with Russell Sanna

Russell Sanna, Executive Director, National Centre For Responsible Gambling

Dr. Russell Sanna joined the NCRG on March 1, 2016. He oversees the operations of the Center and works with the entire NCRG team on implementing the recently completed strategic plan to better enable it to fulfil its mission. Most recently, Dr. Sanna was the Executive Director of the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine.  In earlier posts, he was the Associate Dean for External Relations at the Harvard Design School and the Assistant Director of the Harvard Art Museums. In all three roles, he was responsible for building and enhancing stakeholder networks and resource development.

  • Russell, sports betting is introducing more people to gambling every day in the legislated states. Should state regulators begin preparing more gambling addiction treatment centres throughout the country?
  • Expanding gambling opportunities, sports betting or otherwise, does not lead to an increase in the prevalence of gambling disorder – that is well established in the research literature. What state regulators should focus on is working with the treatment services community and the research community to get those with gambling disorder into effective treatment. Historically, only 15% of the population with gambling disorder seeks treatment.
  • How important is it for new sports betting operators to begin contributing to responsible gambling centres?
  • Supporting research on gambling disorders and responsible gaming is the right thing for the industry to do, this is key to building the integrity of the gaming industry in the eyes of the general public and public policy decision makers. Without the scientific research, the industry would be subject to politically motivated and uniformed opinions.
  • Are there any practices that operators can incorporate that will allow them to identify problem gamblers?
  • Operators should invest in responsible gaming training programs for all their employees. Those programs should include a focus on both: 1) responsible gaming practices for consumers; and 2) guidelines and practices for managing high-risk behaviour.
  • What is the National Centre For Responsible Gambling’s plans for 2019?
  • We have just launched an initiative to secure funding for the NCRG Fund to Support Research on Sports Wagering. The American Gaming Association and the MGM have signed on as Founding Donors and we are looking for additional support. This will be the first of its kind in the United States because, of course, before May 2018, sports betting was illegal outside of Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware, therefore, there was limited opportunity for research of any scale.  We will also be taking a look at how to build better self-exclusion programs to serve the gambling industry consumers.
  • What do you most look forward to by being part of the All American Sports Betting Summit 2019?
  • Russell is excited to meet you at the All American Sports Betting Summit 2019. See more information on the All American Sports Betting Summit and how you can register below.
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