Expanding gambling in Massachusetts has fueled concerns about potential increases in problem gambling and related negative health and mental health impacts. Many communities are not aware of the potential harms of problem gambling, particularly for historically marginalized populations such as communities of color. There is an urgent need for prevention efforts and systems that prevent potential harms, address root causes of problem gambling—including social determinants of health that negatively impact marginalized populations—reduce health disparities, and build health and racial equity.
Led by EDC, the Massachusetts Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling Prevention partners with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Office of Problem Gambling Services to provide capacity building, training, and education to prevent problem gambling and related health issues, such as substance misuse, suicide, and violence. A key part of the Center’s work is to engage historically marginalized populations as partners in developing culturally and linguistically responsive prevention efforts and systems.
Using a social-ecological model—involving the individual, family, and community—as a framework, the Center authentically engages communities, uses an explicit equity lens, and addresses economic and social conditions that influence the health of people and communities. The Center’s activities include:
- Working with MDPH to develop innovative strategies to prevent problem gambling
- Providing individualized technical assistance (TA) to 15 community-based organizations funded to implement problem gambling prevention projects
- Facilitating three communities of practice (COPs) per month focused on youth and families, high-risk populations, and the use of culture to engage marginalized communities
- Providing webinars and other distance-learning events to share research, best practices, and education about problem gambling prevention and related issues
- Delivering trainings designed to increase knowledge and readiness to address problem gambling prevention and related behavioral issues
- Managing a website with information about problem gambling prevention and resources that educate communities about health issues that disproportionately impact communities that face the greatest health disparities
The Center achieved the following impacts in 2022:
- Reached 500+ people through training and TA
- Facilitated COPs that engaged 200+ grantees in peer-to-peer TA, empowering them to problem solve; identify emerging issues; and share challenges, solutions, and resources
- Provided one-on-one ongoing coaching and support to 158 grantee participants
- Engaged 72 grantee participants in capacity-building TA, resulting in 45% of participants increasing their capacity to effectively implement problem gambling prevention