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ECU Professor Uses Grant Money For Gambling Research Initiative

Written By J.R. Duren | Updated:
East Carolina University Helmet Sits On Football Field with North Carolina gambling research

North Carolina gamblers should get familiar with the name “Dr. Michelle Malkin.”

Malkin, an assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology at East Carolina University, is the director of the Gambling Research and Policy Initiative (GRPI). A program that will research gambling trends in North Carolina.

In particular, Malkin will focus on gambling in underrepresented communities. “I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity to expand knowledge in the field,” Malkin said in an ECU news article.

“I never imagined I would have the resources necessary to build an interdisciplinary research team dedicated to making a difference in the gambling field and working to understand and potentially reduce the negative impacts of gambling — especially the prevalence of gambling-related harms.”

GRPI’s launch was possible through a $750,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

GRPI research will focus on underrepresented communities

The GRPI’s launch is a timely one, as Gov. Roy Cooper signed online sports betting into law this past June. Sports betting’s launch should happen in the first half of 2024.

And, much like other states that launch sports betting, there’s likely to be a spike in reports of problem gambling.

Malkin and the GRPI are planning to focus reasearch on vunerable communities that will participate in sports betting. Some of those communities include:

  • Veterans
  • The unhoused
  • Emerging adults
  • Students
  • Communities with lower incomes
  • Marginalized communities

“I have worked hard to ensure that my research not only reaches academics but those that need it most,” Malkin said in a statement.

“As director of the GRPI, my goal is to build a research team that is focused on understanding the impact of expanded gambling legalization on our communities, especially those that are most under-researched, so that gambling education, regulations, policies, outreach and resources can serve those most in need.”

Gambling research projects are already in the works

Malkin has mapped out several research projects she’d like the GRPI to tackle. Those projects include:

  • Understanding how widespread gambling is in the LGBTQ+ community and what the risks are
  • A baseline study of students in the University of North Carolina school system who gamble
  • A nationwide study that will analyze the relationship between self-exclusion programs and gambling types
  • Studying court-based diversion programs that serve as gambling treatments

Malkin also noted that the GRPI is working on a five-year plan in which the initiative plans to do recurring studies on North Carolina gambling prevalence.

“Research will be able to show whether gambling prevalence and risk changes over time among different regions and demographics to help identify and target communities that need education, outreach, or problem gambling services,” Malkin said.

“The best programs are always well evaluated and based on empirical knowledge that can only be gained through rigorous and continued research.”

Amanda Winters, an administrator at DHHS, said the organization is “honored” to work with Malkin and called her a “true pioneer in the field of gambling research.”

“ECU was the right partner for this initiative, not only because of Dr. Malkin but because of ECU’s commitment to public health and outreach,” Winters added.

Photo by Chris Szagola / AP Photo; illustrated by PlayUSA
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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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