Mass Gaming Commission Awards Springfield Grant To Study Youth Gambling

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to award the City of Springfield a grant to help address gambling-related harm affecting the youth.

Springfield will receive $275,000 as part of the Commission's Community Mitigation Fund, which provides grants to support communities with offsetting costs related to the construction and operation of gaming facilities.

Since 2015, the CMF has funded $48 million to help transportation, community planning, workforce development, and public safety initiatives.

The Springfield grant will help the city fund research and better understand the factors around problem gambling among young people, which will then inform prevention and treatment efforts.

The commissioners made the decision to award the funding at a public meeting on Thursday.

“Understanding the gambling-related harms experienced by young people will have a direct impact on strategies developed to prevent and mitigate those harms in the future,” said Interim Chair Jordan Maynard in a press release on Friday.

“Working directly with engaged young people in Springfield will help researchers and the Commission fully understand the impacts of gambling on this population and lead to additional programs designed to mitigate potential harms.”

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Specifically, the research funding will look into digital storytelling and crowdsourcing. The Commission explained that digital storytelling is a qualitative research methodology that uses group workshops where participants create digital stories and "feel empowered as storytellers of their experiences."

“Digital storytelling can provide a safe space for participants to share their experiences and narratives around challenging topics, like gambling,” said Helen Caulton-Harris Commissioner of the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services.

“This will provide a space that values lived expertise from marginalized communities to share their own stories.”

The Commission said they hope the Springfield grant and research initiative will become a model for other communities dealing with similar problems.

The Commission was established by the state as an oversight agency monitoring gaming establishments, and it has the most comprehensive regulator-supported research program in the country,

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