Symposium

GAMBLING AND PROBLEM GAMBLING IN NORWAY:
LESSONS FROM NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH

Oslo, Norway
16 October 2006

In the wake of a failed attempt by NLD to fund university-based research on gambling in Norway, Dr. Volberg argued for an international meeting to help ensure that Norwegian gambling policy would be informed by the best available research from within Norway and internationally.  The goal of the symposium was to bring together reputable Norwegian researchers and internationally recognized gambling research experts for a day of presentations and discussion of critical issues relevant to Norwegian gambling policy.  

NLD agreed to guarantee funding for such a symposium with two provisos – that the international speakers be top names in the gambling research field and that additional sponsors would be sought.  In turn, Dr. Volberg required complete freedom in identifying the speakers, organizing the symposium and setting the agenda.  In addition to Dr. Volberg, the international speakers included:

  • Professor Alex Blaszczynski, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Australia
  • Professor Jeffrey Derevensky, Director, International Center for Youth Gambling Problems & High Risk Behaviors, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • Professor Mark Griffiths, Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, England
  • Professor Max Abbott, Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
  • Professor Emeritus Sten Ronnberg, Swedish Institute of Applied Behavior Analysis, Bondersbyn, Sweden

The symposium was held at the Felix Konferansesenter in Aker Brygge.  In addition to the international speakers, there were two Norwegian presenters, including Mr. Atle Hamar, Director of the Norwegian Gaming & Foundation Authority, and Dr. Ingeborg Lund from the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol & Drug Research (SIRUS) who directed a large prevalence survey in Norway in 2002.  The morning sessions included presentations that focused on setting the Norwegian context and providing overviews of recent, relevant research on the structural characteristics of gambling machines, the relationship between gambling machine availability and problem gambling prevalence, and international approaches to minimizing gambling problems.  In the afternoon, panel discussions focused on policy-relevant issues including comparisons between Norway and other countries and the likely effects of the proposed regulatory changes in Norway.  

The goal of bringing together Norwegian and international researchers to engage in thoughtful consideration of the scientific evidence was fully realized.  The goal of increased dialogue between major stakeholders in Norway was only partly realized since very few people from the Parliament and no one from the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs or Norsk Tipping attended the symposium.  However, attendees included representatives from the Norwegian regulatory agency, from several academic research institutions and from a range of other stakeholder groups.  And, as noted above, the international presenters included Professor Griffiths, a British gambling researcher who served as an expert witness for the Norwegian Government in the court case with NLD and who has consulted for Norsk Tipping as well as Professor Abbott, who served with Dr. Volberg as an expert witness for NLD in the same court case.

Presentations
At the end of the symposium, Dr. Volberg pledged to post all of the Powerpoint presentations made in the morning sessions of the symposium on the Gemini Research website.  All of these presentations are now available. 

Summary
Dr. Volberg also pledged to prepare and post a summary of the proceedings of the symposium.  This summary is in preparation and will be posted shortly.

Aftenposten Articles
In the wake of the symposium, several letters were published in Aftenposten, one of the oldest and largest Norwegian newspapers.  These letters are posted here in both English and Norwegian to give readers a sense of the emerging debate on the gambling machine regime in Norway.