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A Section of Australian Lawmakers Ask University to Scrap Gambling Research Project

Last update: May, 2024

Written by: Lisa Cheban Content writer
A Section of Australian Lawmakers Ask University to Scrap Gambling Research Project

On August 14, the University of Sydney announced plans to set up a multi-disciplinary gambling research centre to study gambling behaviour in the country and minimize harm. The centre received $600,000 in funding from ICRG (International Center for Responsible Gaming) and will be led by Professor Sally Gainsbury.

However, the funding source for the research centre has raised questions, with some lawmakers making public their thoughts about the issue. Independents Andrew Wilkie and Zoe Daniel have cautioned against the university receiving financing from casinos and gaming firms for the Center of Excellence in Gambling Research project.

Numerous federal MPs believe that the University of Sydney’s relationship with Australia’s most prominent sports betting companies has damaged its credibility. They proceeded to demand that the amount received from these companies to fund the project be refunded.

According to the Guardian Australia, some of the largest casinos and gambling corporations in the world are the principal financial backers of the ICRG. In addition, the organization’s board of directors consists of executives from leading casino resorts.

Some of the companies believed to fund ICRG include:

  • MGM Resorts International
  • The Caesars Foundation
  • Bally’s Corporation
  • Sands Inc.
  • Wynn Resorts
  • Boyd Gaming Corporation
  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • IGT
  • Flutter
  • Entain

Independent MP Zoe Daniel criticized the partnership for being “tone deaf.” She is famous for her firm stand against gambling adverts before the parliamentary inquiry report was released. Zoe Daniel said the suggested institution is a “threat to the reputation of the University of Sydney, ” known for its independence and research quality.

Rebekha Sharkie, another independent MP, called the funding source “utterly appalling, ” saying the university would have solicited funds elsewhere. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie echoed these sentiments, stating the institution should reverse the funding arrangement.

According to Independent Sophie Scamps, a former GP, Sydney University must resist being paid off by the gaming industry if it hopes to maintain its standing as an important centre for scientific research.

The independent MP, Monique Ryan, weighed in on the issue, stating no one would support the idea of the University of Sydney receiving half a million from the tobacco industry. The MP said the same standard must be used in the gambling industry.

On their part, a university representative justified the sponsorship, claiming that the collaboration would result in more insightful research informed by de-identified data from gaming businesses. Additionally, the spokesperson stated that betting companies would not be allowed to edit the research report in any way.

“Government research grants rarely cover the full cost of research and alternative funding sources are required. Despite substantial income from gambling and the harms associated with it, there is minimal funding for research to inform safer gambling policies. Partnering with external commercial partners also ensures that research is implementation-ready and relevant to national policy and practice,” the university added.

Jason Clare, the federal minister of education, said the university is an independent institution in Australia. However, the minister said the university must adhere to all ethical and research standards.

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