Section 71. The commission, with the advice of the gaming policy advisory committee, shall develop an annual research agenda in order to understand the social and economic effects of expanding gaming in the commonwealth and to obtain scientific information relative to the neuroscience, psychology, sociology, epidemiology and etiology of gambling. The secretary of health and human services, with the advice and consent of the commission, may expend funds from the Public Health Trust Fund established in section 58 to implement the objectives of the research agenda which shall include, but not be limited to:
(1) a baseline study of the existing occurrence of problem gambling in the commonwealth; provided, however, that the study shall examine and describe the existing levels of problem gambling and the existing programs available that prevent and address the harmful consequences of problem gambling; provided further, that the commission shall contract with scientists and physicians to examine the current research as to the causes for problem gambling and the health effects of problem gambling and the treatment methods currently available in the commonwealth; provided further, that the commission shall report on the findings of the baseline study and provide recommendations to the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on economic development and emerging technologies, the joint committee on mental health and substance abuse and the joint committee on public health relative to methods to supplement or improve problem gambling prevention and treatment services;
(2) comprehensive legal and factual studies of the social and economic impacts of gambling in the commonwealth on: (a) state, local and Indian tribal governments; and (b) communities and social institutions generally, including individuals, families and businesses within such communities and institutions; provided, however, that the matters to be examined in such studies shall include, but not be limited to:
(i) a review of existing federal, state, local and Indian tribal government policies and practices with respect to the legalization or prohibition of gambling, including a review of the costs of such policies and practices;
(ii) an assessment of the relationship between gambling and levels of crime and of existing enforcement and regulatory practices intended to address any such relationship;
(iii) an assessment of pathological or problem gambling, including its impact on individuals, families, businesses, social institutions and the economy;
(iv) an assessment of the impact of gambling on individuals, families, businesses, social institutions and the economy generally, including the role of advertising in promoting gambling and the impact of gambling on depressed economic areas;
(v) an assessment of the extent to which gaming has provided revenues to other state, local and Indian tribal governments;
(vi) an assessment of the costs of added infrastructure, police force, increased unemployment, increased health care and dependency on public assistance;
(vii) an assessment of the impact of the development and operation of the gaming establishment on small businesses in host communities and surrounding communities, including a review of any economic harm experienced and potential solutions to mitigate associated economic harm; and
(viii) the costs of implementing this chapter.
(3) individual studies conducted by academic institutions and individual researchers in the commonwealth to study topics which shall include, but not be limited to: (i) reward and aversion, neuroimaging and neuroscience in humans, addiction phenotype genotype research, gambling-based experimental psychology and mathematical modeling of reward-based decision making; (ii) the sociology and psychology of gambling behavior, gambling technology and marketing; and (iii) the epidemiology and etiology of gambling and problem gambling in the general population; provided, however, that when contracting with researchers to study such issues, the commission shall encourage the collaboration among researchers in the commonwealth and other states and jurisdictions.
The commission and the committee shall annually make scientifically-based recommendations which reflect the results of this research to the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on economic development and emerging technologies, the joint committee on mental health and substance abuse and the joint committee on public health. The commission shall consider any such recommendations, research and findings in all decisions related to enhancing responsible gambling and mitigating problem gambling.