Firms, Rutgers To Study Telehealth Gambling Treatments

In this June 23, 2021 photo, bets a made during a game of roulette at Bally's casino in Atlantic City N.J. A gambling technology company and a virtual mental health clinic announced Wednesday, July 7, 2021, that they are joining with New Jersey's Rutgers University to study the effectiveness of compulsive gambling and video game-playing treatments that are offered in a virtual setting. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
In this June 23, 2021 photo, bets a made during a game of roulette at Bally's casino in Atlantic City N.J. A gambling technology company and a virtual mental health clinic announced Wednesday, July 7, 2021, that they are joining with New Jersey's Rutgers University to study the effectiveness of compulsive gambling and video game-playing treatments that are offered in a virtual setting. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A gambling technology company and a virtual mental health clinic are joining with New Jersey's Rutgers University to study the effectiveness of treatment for compulsive gambling and video game playing delivered in a virtual setting.

Playtech, based in Isle of Man, and Kindbridge, the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based telehealth clinic said Wednesday they are teaming up with the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers to create an evidence-based model for gambling treatment in a telehealth setting.

It will be done through the newly formed Kindbridge Research Institute, and the companies said the research will be the first of its kind to be conducted in the U.S.

The goal is to use advancements in technology to improve the understanding and treatment of gambling and digital dependency and their related harms, aiming to enhance the effectiveness of such treatments in a virtual setting.

Daniel Umfleet, Kindbridge's founder and CEO, said the client and the counselor can use a video link and notes to communicate.

“Think FaceTime or Zoom with clinical tools built in,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

“The study is to design an evidence-based telehealth model that would monitor a client's progress from initial intake for treatment, straight through recovery, and measure their quality of life at 30, 60, 90, and 180 days post-treatment completion,” he said.

“Kindbridge is the first treatment agency in the U.S. 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,” said Lia Nower, director of the Rutgers gambling studies center and the lead researcher on the project.

Kindbridge said it is working with U.S. casino operators, insurance companies, and social organizations to create access to telehealth care for gamblers and video game players.

It aims to compare player data with information Kindbridge gathers from its clinical network in order to better understand the origins of harmful gambling and gaming behavior.

The study is expected to last 18 to 24 months.

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