The Responsible Gaming Foundation (RGF) represented by the Hon. Silvio Schembri and the University of Malta (UM) represented by Rector, Professor Alfred J. Vella, have signed an Agreement detailing areas of mutual cooperation. A press conference held at the University of Malta, was addressed by the Hon. Emmanuel Mallia, Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, the Hon. Schembri, Chairperson of the Responsible Gaming Foundation, Maltco’s CEO, Mr Vasileios Kasiotakis, and University Rector, Professor Vella, in the presence of Dr Andrew Azzopardi, Dean, Faculty for Social Wellbeing and the Hon. Kristy Debono.
RGF’s mission includes creating wider awareness of the extent, possible causes and consequences of problem gaming in Malta, with a view to preventing it and to provide the necessary support and advice to problem gamblers and their dependents in their recovery efforts. One of the main objectives of the Responsible Gaming Foundation is to support and to promote further research into problem gambling. The University, on the other hand, has the necessary knowledge and expertise, and is willing to support the RGF in its mission and its specific objectives, primarily through its Faculty for Social Wellbeing.
To this end, the RGF is issuing a number of scholarships every year to enable students to pursue Master degrees in themes related to Responsible Gaming. The MoU includes provisions for data sharing, (with the necessary measures being taken to safeguard ethical, legal and privacy rights of the participants), access to the University Library for all University students receiving the scholarship and the RGF staff, and collaboration in research - including by working together to obtain funding for such research from government, industry and other stakeholders. Both Parties will also collaborate in maximising the dissemination of knowledge and information generated through such research and to ensure that the findings from the research is made available to direct policy-makers/decision-takers and prospective researchers. The RGF will also seek to explore possibilities for internships within the industry. These experiences would be in turn be reviewed by the University.
Minister Emmanuel Mallia said that this initiative will be of great benefit to both entities in understanding and preventing social problems related to gaming abuse and irresponsible gaming. The Responsible Gaming Foundation requires the assistance of educational entities such as the University of Malta in researching and better understanding the field of gaming so as to increase awareness of gaming addiction and tailor effective policies. Minister Emmanuel Mallia emphasised that this goal can be achieved through in depth study and the accumulation of knowledge on this sector.
The Hon. Silvio Schembri emphasised the importance of research in the gaming sector. He maintained that research will enhance the treatment given to victims of a gambling addiction and benefit social work practice in general. The Responsible Gaming Foundation, through its different campaigns, including the Outreach and Educational Campaign, is striving hard to reach gaming victims and to provide them with the necessary support.
Mr Kasiotakis stated that progress can only be through research, and Maltco Lotteries chose to be a part of this first research foundation: An investment which the next generation and the one after that will keep on building upon. Hence Mr Kasiotakis expressed his satisfaction and pride regarding the sponsorship as it is needed for the National Operator, for the local gaming industry, but most of all it is needed for the generations to come.
University of Malta Rector, Professor Alfred J. Vella, welcomed the collaboration with RGF and the scholarships scheme offered. He said that beneficiaries will gain specialist knowledge in an aspect of gaming such as Responsible Gaming, Gambling Infrastructure, Youth and Gambling, Gambling Trajectories and the family. He commented that these are under-researched areas and the students’ research will therefore be contributing to scholarship in this sphere and also serve as a base for the development of policy and practice in the sector.