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Institute for Responsible Gaming, Lotteries, and Sport

This institute’s mission includes research, education, training, and outreach. Teams of faculty, staff, and students representing numerous existing and successful centers at Miami will tackle problems and research needs they identify and will respond to needs that address questions posed by state government officials and gaming industry leaders. Undergraduate and graduate students will be mentored by faculty to work on research questions and will experience educational programming that will train the next generation of leaders. Academic programs at Miami including gaming, neuroscience, sports leadership, and management already exist, and these could expand with the growth of this new center. Executive education and outreach programs will provide current leaders and managers with the tools needed to make data-informed economic and policy decisions.

Statewide Collaboration

A partnership among these three sectors can lead to comprehensive data collection and analysis. As a result, addiction problems can be more readily averted and replaced with innovative, research-based solutions.


In Ohio, there are currently no independent organizations or institutions of higher education that are comprehensively collecting and analyzing data on the gaming industry. Miami University is happy to serve as a resource to the General Assembly, as sports gaming and e-bingo legislation is developed for the State of Ohio.


Currently, many gaming-related problems across the country are a result of the field’s data silos — companies that keep their data in house. Sharing the data from each silo with an independent third party and taking away the identifying factors to protect each individual’s privacy, will allow that third party to detect patterns in addiction and problem gambling and create predictive modeling of gaming behaviors to assist Ohioans before a person reaches the point of despair.

Comprehensive data collection and analysis will lead to not only a better understanding and treatment of addiction, but also the prevention of criminal activity in the gaming industry.

Miami University

The Institute will initially advance responsible gaming by addressing issues around addiction, policy, and the most pressing industry questions. We will provide objective and non-partisan research to policy makers and the gaming industry on strategies for responsible gaming engagement.

Academic Connections

Students presenting at undergraduate research forum

Student Research

Miami regularly has over 3,000 undergraduate students and approximately 2,000 graduate students involved in research as part of their studies. Miami students conduct mentored research in all disciplines, including in underutilized fields such as addictive gaming behavior. Gaming and related research currently taking place at Miami focuses on examining what causes gaming addiction and the body’s correlating identifying markers.

Student in psychology lab testing EEG


The McMurray lab at Miami University has been studying how the brain processes risky decisions, with the hope of identifying novel therapeutic targets to reduce problem gambling. Our work in this field has already identified how early life experiences may shape an individual’s risk for gambling disorders, and my lab has even identified a potential therapeutic for individuals with gambling disorders.

Data analytics students in computer lab discussing research

Data Science

Data Science refers to using data from a variety of sources to answer important questions. This includes, but is not limited to, designing methods for collecting appropriate and representative data, developing rules/models for predicting responses or actions, or grouping individuals with similar traits. Data management, statistical model building, evaluation, and more are part of the skills involved in this work.

Community Partners

Jody Bechtold, LCSW, ICGC-II, BACC, PC

Jody is a highly regarded gambling addiction expert working extensively across the globe with individuals, organizations, and associations. She is the CEO of The Better Institute, a group practice located in Pittsburgh. She is the co-author of The Gambling Disorder Treatment Handbook: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals and 2 chapters in the Social Work Desk Reference v 4 on Gambling and Gaming Disorders, published in 2021. She serves on the Executive Committee for the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board (IGCCB). Jody holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work and has certifications as a Board-Approved Clinical Consultant (BACC) and Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor Level II (ICGC-II) with the IGCCB. When Jody isn’t working, you can find her providing pet therapy with her dog, Hanna, and supporting her husband’s business, Pittsburgh Guitars. Please email or visit to contact Jody Bechtold, LCSW, ICGC-II, PC.

Former State Senator Bill Coley

Former Senator Bill Coley currently serves as the Executive Director of FairP2P. is a not-for-profit membership-based organization establishing a regulatory structure for the competitive P2P skill-based gameplay sector. Former Senator Coley fulfilled his term limits for 16 consecutive years in the Ohio General Assembly, including ten years as a Committee Chairman. Senator Coley’s experience in handling gaming issues led to his election as president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS). His expertise coupled with his innovative legislative efforts, has resulted in numerous speaking engagements throughout the nation, and internationally, on legislative issues including elections operations, payment systems, pharmacy benefit management, educational distance learning, sports betting and gaming policy. Together with President Greg Crawford of Miami University, Coley helped create the Work+ Program. He currently also works as a commercial litigation attorney, is AV Preeminent rated, (the highest rating) and is licensed to practice law in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Coley received his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Dayton and his law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. An instrument rated pilot, he and his wife Carolyn live in Liberty Township. They love animals and have two Old English Sheep dogs (Wilby and Elwood) plus a cat (Tillie).

Dr. Austin Smith

Austin Smith is an Associate Professor of Economics at Bates College, a former Associate Professor at Miami University, and a research affiliate with the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) - an international research network based in Bonn, Germany. Smith is an empirical microeconomist who studies labor markets, the impact of risky behavior on college and career outcomes, and incentives in online gambling. His research has led to testimony before the Ohio Senate and has been covered by outlets including The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Business Insider, and The Wall Street Journal.

Roudebush Hall
Contact Information

Randi Malcolm Thomas, Esq.

Vice President for ASPIRE

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