Massey ignored gambling body's caution on study

By Steve Deane

Photo / Christine Cornege
Photo / Christine Cornege

Massey University ignored warnings a study analysing the benefits of pokie grants would produce flawed results that would be used by the gaming industry as a weapon in the debate over gaming reform.

Yesterday the Herald reported that the March 2013 study - which has been referenced repeatedly by the Lion Foundation in its publications - was an assignment completed by a group of MBA students.

Academics have dismissed the study's findings because of its limited sample size and failure to address any negatives associated with collection and distribution of pokie money. It has not been peer reviewed or published in the university library.

Problem Gambling Foundation (PGF) chief executive Graeme Ramsay complained to the university's ethics committee after being alerted to the study in December.

"It didn't seem to be an independent, balanced piece of research, but one that was going to provide media ammunition for the Lion Foundation, which is exactly what happened," Mr Ramsay said.

PGF's complaint was addressed by Massey's research ethics director, Professor John O'Neill, who in April supplied an email response by course supervisor Associate Professor John Holland defending the study.

Vicki Caisley, one of the students who carried out the study, said Professor Holland had selected the topic and assigned it to students. Professor Holland wrote to PGF that statements in the study making clear its limitations and purpose would "help limit its potential misuse".

Massey communications director James Gardiner said the university had considered PGF's comments and responded in detail. "It's ridiculous to suggest a university should limit the topics its students may study to areas where the findings cannot be misinterpreted, misunderstood or quoted out of context."

Chief executive Murray Reade said the Lion Foundation did not question the university's "scholastic validity", but would consider how it used the report in future.

- NZ Herald

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