Panel Discussions

Are Casinos Like Cocaine for the Brain?

A conversation with Hans C. Breiter, M.D., Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Paul Davies, Maggie Walker Fellow, IAV; and Kathleen Kovner Kline, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at the Consortium. Hosted by David Blankenhorn, President, IAV.

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More by: David Blankenhorn

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"Coke and gambling do the same thing in the brain," according to Harvard neuroscientist HANS BREITER, one of the nation's leading researchers on the reward circuitry in the brain. Breiter's experiments comparing the brain of a healthy individual who gambles with the brain of cocaine addicts, found that the brain images were identical. But beyond this important finding, Breiter's research raises questions about the still unaddressed public health and ethical consequences of expanded gambling in New York. "Every society must make a decision about the slippery slope dividing healthy endeavors from pathological ones," Breiter told Massachusetts officials in his testimony on expanded gambling in 2009, "When you are taking tax dollars from gambling, think of the normal brain high on cocaine."

Join HANS BREITER, journalist PAUL DAVIES, and psychiatrist KATHLEEN KOVNER KLINE:

  • Should the state knowingly contribute to increasing the risks of gambling addiction?
  • What are the health costs to individuals, families, and the taxpayer from problem gambling?
  • Should gambling be treated like a legal drug?
  • What is the ethical responsibility of the state to its vulnerable citizens?

This conversation was recorded in New York City on April 26, 2012.


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