From problem people to addictive products: a qualitative study on rethinking gambling policy from the perspective of lived experience [open access article]

Helen E. Miller, Samantha L. Thomas & Priscilla Robinson. (2018). From problem people to addictive products: a qualitative study on rethinking gambling policy from the perspective of lived experience. Harm Reduction Journal 15:16.

Previous research has shown that government and industry discussions of gambling may focus on personal responsibility for gambling harm. In Australia, these discussions have largely excluded people with lived experience of problem gambling, including those involved in peer support and advocacy.

We conducted 26 in-depth interviews with people with current or previous problem gambling on electronic gaming machines (EGMs) involved in peer support and advocacy activities, using an approach informed by Interpretive Policy Analysis and Constructivist Grounded Theory.

Participants perceived that government and industry discussed gambling as safe and entertaining with a focus on personal responsibility for problem gambling. This focus on personal responsibility was perceived to increase stigma associated with problem gambling. In contrast, they described gambling as risky, addictive and harmful, with problem gambling resulting from the design of EGMs. As a result of their different perspectives, participants proposed different interventions to reduce gambling harm, including reducing accessibility and making products safer.

Challenging the discourses used by governments and industry to describe gambling, using the lived experience of people with experience of gambling harm, may result in reduced stigma associated with problem gambling, and more effective public policy approaches to reducing harm. Read full article. 

Gambling participation, gambling habits, gambling-related harm, and opinions on gambling advertising in Finland in 2016 [open access article]

Anne H. Salonen, Matilda Hellman, Tiina Latvala & Sari Castrén. (2018). Gambling participation, gambling habits, gambling-related harm, and opinions on gambling advertising in Finland in 2016. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

This report is an overview of results from the 2016 Finnish Gambling Harms Survey covering the population and clinical perspectives. It summarises the main findings on gambling participation, gambling habits, gambling-related harm, and opinions on gambling advertising.

The population sample (n = 7186) was collected from three regions and the clinical sample (n = 119) in a gambling help clinic.

Frequency of gambling in the population sample was characteristically once a week, while in the clinical sample it was daily. Men gambled more often than women only in the population sample. The most common gambling environments were kiosks, grocery stores or supermarkets, and home. The most typical gambling-related harms were financial or emotional/psychological harms; the amount of experienced harm was considerable among the clinical sample. The clinical sample also perceived gambling advertising as obtrusive and as a driving force for gambling.

The results of the clinical sample imply that when gambling gets out of hand, the distinctions between gamblers’ habits diminish and become more streamlined, focusing on gambling per se – doing it often, and in greater varieties (different game types). There is a heightened need to monitor gambling and gambling-related harm at the population level, especially amongst heavy consumers, in order to understand what type of external factors pertaining to policy and governance may contribute to the shift from recreational to problem gambling. Read full article. 

Attitudes towards community gambling venues and support for regulatory reform: an online panel study of residents in New South Wales, Australia [open access article]

Amy Bestman, Samantha L. Thomas, Melanie Randle, Hannah Pitt & Mike Daube. (2018). Attitudes towards community gambling venues and support for regulatory reform: an online panel study of residents in New South Wales, Australia
Harm Reduction Journal 15:15.

Harmful gambling has been identified as an important public health issue that affects individuals, families and the broader community. One gambling product, electronic gambling machines (EGMs), has been associated with significant gambling harm in Australia. There has been limited research that has explored community perceptions of EGMs and attitudes towards reform. This study, conducted in NSW, Australia, aimed to explore community use of EGM venues (clubs and hotels containing EGMs), attitudes towards EGMs and whether the use of these venues influenced attitudes towards EGM reform.

An online survey was conducted with 500 adults aged 16 years and over, representative of the population for age and gender. Discrete choice and open-ended questions were used to gather data on gambling behaviours, use of and attitudes towards EGMs and EGM venues and support for gambling harm reduction measures.

Three quarters of participants had visited an EGM venue in the previous year. Participants who had attended such venues were significantly more likely to use EGMs at least once per month. Participants attended EGM venues for a range of reasons including use of non-gambling facilities such as restaurants, the social aspects of the venue and ease of access to the venue. Some participants also attended EGM venues specifically for the gambling facilities. Most participants identified some negative impacts of EGMs for local communities and were supportive of measures to reduce the number of EGMs and prevent children’s exposure to EGMs in such venues.

This study shows a high level of support for EGM reform amongst both individuals who attend EGM venues and also those who do not. There is potential for government to further regulate EGMs and the environments where they are located. Read full article.

Excessive Gambling and Online Gambling Communities [subscription article]

Sirola, A., Kaakinen, M. & Oksanen, A. (2018). Excessive gambling and online gambling communities. Journal of Gambling Studies.

Abstract: The Internet provides an accessible context for online gambling and gambling-related online communities, such as discussion forums for gamblers. These communities may be particularly attractive to young gamblers who are active Internet users. The aim of this study was to examine the use of gambling-related online communities and their relevance to excessive gambling among 15–25-year-old Finnish Internet users (N = 1200). Excessive gambling was assessed by using the South Oaks Gambling Screen. Respondents were asked in a survey about their use of various kinds of gambling-related online communities, and sociodemographic and behavioral factors were adjusted. The results of the study revealed that over half (54.33%) of respondents who had visited gambling-related online communities were either at-risk gamblers or probable pathological gamblers. Discussion in these communities was mainly based on sharing gambling tips and experiences, and very few respondents said that they related to gambling problems and recovery. In three different regression models, visiting gambling-related online communities was a significant predictor for excessive gambling (with 95% confidence level) even after adjusting confounding factors. The association of visiting such sites was even stronger among probable pathological gamblers than among at-risk gamblers. Health professionals working with young people should be aware of the role of online communities in terms of development and persistence of excessive gambling. Monitoring the use of online gambling communities as well as utilizing recovery-oriented support both offline and online would be important in preventing further problems. Gambling platforms should also include warnings about excessive gambling and provide links to helpful sources. Access and article sources

Gambling Sports Advertising: The influence of gender, junk food, and alcohol in sports betting adverts [open access article]

Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D., co-written with Dr. Hibai Lopez-Gonzalez. Psychology Today (October 2017)

According to a study that we recently published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction (link is external), sports betting adverts are encouraging gambling by associating betting behaviour with alcohol and junk food. We found that more than two-thirds (41%) of football betting adverts in the UK and Spain featured either alcohol or junk food in some way. The study – which is the first to investigate the use of alcohol and unhealthy food in gambling adverts – found that betting advertising appeared to capitalise on sentiments arising from the culture of sports viewing and gambling. Alcohol (particularly beer) was used to create an atmosphere of sentimental bonding between friends and sport, and was used when there was a particularly high number of characters in an advert. We reported an association between drinking alcohol in betting adverts and emotionally-charged sporting situations such as more frequent betting while viewing a football game, more goal celebrations, and greater satisfaction with the outcome of games or bets. Continue reading