Magazine Feature / People

University can help with students’ problem gambling

While nearly half of U.S. college students reported gambling during the past year, a recent report by the National Center for Responsible Gaming shows only 22 percent of colleges and universities in the U.S. have gambling policies.

DU’s Karin Dittrick-Nathan wants to change that. The assistant clinical professor in the Morgridge College of Education’s Child, Family, and School Psychology program recently served on a task force, established by the Division on Addictions at the Cambridge Health Alliance and the gaming center, to recommend a gambling policy “road map.” The goal was to help reduce college gambling problems and help students struggling with a gambling addiction. Twelve colleges and universities throughout the U.S. participated on the task force.

Among the report’s 10 recommendations, are that universities should establish clear, written gambling policies that comply with local laws, promote education on responsible gaming and help treat students with gambling disorders.

“Problem gambling is similar to alcoholism and other addictions. It is a serious disorder that can have far-reaching and devastating implications for individuals,” Dittrick-Nathan says. “A gambling addiction can cause psychological, physical, social and educational or vocational disruptions.”

“There are relatively few studies on the best way to help problem gamblers,” says Michael Faragher, director of the Morgridge College of Education’s Problem Gambling Treatment and Research Center. “However, studies do show that counseling is a successful treatment choice.”

DU is putting together a task force to recommend a gambling policy and is one of only a few college campuses in the nation to have a treatment center for gambling addictions. Graduate students from DU’s Counseling Psychology program work at the Morgridge gambling center to provide free counseling and therapy to problem gamblers and their families.

Faragher says the Morgridge gambling center is “passionate about increasing services available to problem gamblers, their families, treatment providers and the community through clinical treatment, research, education and prevention efforts.”

The Morgridge gambling center will host its fourth annual conference to address problem gambling in Colorado on Oct. 30. The day-long event, The Next Generation of Problem Gamblers, features Jeffrey Derevensky, the co-director of the McGill University Youth Gambling Research and Treatment Clinic and the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors. The conference also includes other leaders in problem gambling treatment and prevention. The conference is free and lunch will be provided. For more information, contact Mike Faragher at

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