West HQ has publicly backed government and other initiatives to overhaul gaming. Image: Facebook.

West HQ has partnered with a leading gambling research institute to undertake a world-first research program aimed at creating safer gambling environments and practices.

As part of this innovative new research project, The University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic will have access to anonymised actual player data via an anonymous survey, assisting in the development of fit-for-purpose harm minimisation initiatives, by exploring gaming attitudes and behaviours of members and guests.

The West HQ board approved the support for the research, as well as $200,000 in funding via the ClubGRANTS program. CEO Richard Errington said the support was part of the western Sydney club’s commitment to continuously enhance the experiences of its valued members and guests and to help shape a future of safer gambling practices.

 “While most electronic gaming machine players enjoy a safe and positive experience, we acknowledge the importance of providing the appropriate supports to those who do experience harms,” stated Errington.

“This is why West HQ is supporting The University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic on this ground-breaking research program to aid in the development of safer gambling environments and practices which will minimise the risk of harms.

“This independent research will be led by a prominent gaming research team, which will maintain full control over the research design and evaluation to guarantee neutrality and transparency throughout the process.

“Based on the findings and recommendations of the research, we will look to implement further policies, procedures and harm minimisation and intervention strategies to providing safer gaming experiences and environments for the community.”

The involvement in this research project is wholly separate to the cashless gaming trial designed by the NSW Government’s Independent Panel on Gaming Reform, that is set to get underway next year. West HQ will also participate in that trial.

The research being conducted in partnership with West HQ is one of a few current projects the University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic is currently working on. It’s research priorities include:

  • Understanding how new technology is transforming gambling and other high-risk behaviours including how technology can be used to minimise harms;
  • Strategies to prevent gambling problems online and in venues, including encouraging all gambling customers to use tools and resources to reduce the risk of experiencing harms and encourage sustainable and lower-risk gambling;
  • Establishing and evaluating gambling treatments and interventions including digital and scalable stepped-care resources and tools to assist people in taking appropriate action before gambling harms become severe; and
  • Increasing awareness of gambling-related harms among relevant health and welfare professionals as well as financial institutions and encouraging screening and referral to relevant interventions.

West HQ has publicly backed initiatives by governments and other stakeholders on proposals to overhaul of gaming, including the introduction of cashless poker machines, with Errington hoping other venues will also support gaming reform measures.

“We hope through our investment and the outcomes of this research report, it will help the rest of the industry to consider how they can better cater for the communities they serve, as opposed to thinking about how to feed their addiction to poker machine revenue.”

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