A meta-regression analysis of 41 Australian problem gambling prevalence estimates and their relationship to total spending on electronic gaming machines (open access)

By Francis Markham, Martin Young, Bruce Doran, and Mark Sugden.

Background: Many jurisdictions regularly conduct surveys to estimate the prevalence of problem gambling in their adult populations. However, the comparison of such estimates is problematic due to methodological variations between studies. Total consumption theory suggests that an association between mean electronic gaming machine (EGM) and casino gambling losses and problem gambling prevalence estimates may exist. If this is the case, then changes in EGM losses may be used as a proxy indicator for changes in problem gambling prevalence. To test for this association this study examines the relationship between aggregated losses on electronic gaming machines (EGMs) and problem gambling prevalence estimates for Australian states and territories between 1994 and 2016.

Methods: A Bayesian meta-regression analysis of 41 cross-sectional problem gambling prevalence estimates was undertaken using EGM gambling losses, year of survey and methodological variations as predictor variables. General population studies of adults in Australian states and territory published before 1 July 2016 were considered in scope. 41 studies were identified, with a total of 267,367 participants. Problem gambling prevalence, moderate-risk problem gambling prevalence, problem gambling screen, administration mode and frequency threshold were extracted from surveys. Administrative data on EGM and casino gambling loss data were extracted from government reports and expressed as the proportion of household disposable income lost.

Results: Money lost on EGMs is correlated with problem gambling prevalence. An increase of 1% of household disposable income lost on EGMs and in casinos was associated with problem gambling prevalence estimates that were 1.33 times higher [95% credible interval 1.04, 1.71]. There was no clear association between EGM losses and moderate-risk problem gambling prevalence estimates. Moderate-risk problem gambling prevalence estimates were not explained by the models (I 2 ≥ 0.97; R 2 ≤ 0.01).

Conclusions: The present study adds to the weight of evidence that EGM losses are associated with the prevalence of problem gambling. No patterns were evident among moderate-risk problem gambling prevalence estimates, suggesting that this measure is either subject to pronounced measurement error or lacks construct validity. The high degree of residual heterogeneity raises questions about the validity of comparing problem gambling prevalence estimates, even after adjusting for methodological variations between studies.

An examination of internet and land-based gambling among adolescents in three Canadian provinces: results from the youth gambling survey (YGS) – Open Access

Background

With the rapid proliferation of new gambling technology and online gambling opportunities, there is a concern that online gambling could have a significant impact on public health, particularly for adolescents. The aim of this study is to examine online and land-based gambling behaviour among adolescents in 3 Canadian provinces (Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan) prior to the implementation of legalized online gambling.

Methods

Data are from 10,035 students in grades 9 to 12 who responded to the 2012–2013 Youth Gambling Survey (YGS) supplement, a questionnaire administered as part of the Canadian Youth Smoking Survey (YSS, 2012) in 3 provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador (n = 2,588), Ontario (n = 3,892), and Saskatchewan (n = 3,555).

Results

Overall, 41.6 % of adolescents (35.9 % of females and 47.4 % of males) had gambled in the past 3 months. 9.4 % of adolescents had gambled online in the past 3 months alone (3.7 % of females and 15.3 % of males). The most popular form of online gambling was online sports betting. Adolescents also engaged in online simulated gambling including internet poker (9.1 %) and simulated gambling on Facebook (9.0 %). Few adolescents participated in online gambling exclusively and online gamblers were more likely than land-based gamblers to engage in multiple forms of gambling. A higher proportion of adolescent online gamblers scored “high” or “low to moderate” in problem gambling severity compared to land-based only gamblers.

Conclusions

Despite restrictions on online gambling at the time of the study, adolescents were engaging in online gambling at a significantly higher rate than has been previously found. Adolescents were also using technology such as video games to gamble and free online gambling simulations.

Understanding gambling related harm: a proposed definition, conceptual framework, and taxonomy of harms | Full Text

Background

Harm from gambling is known to impact individuals, families, and communities; and these harms are not restricted to people with a gambling disorder. Currently, there is no robust and inclusive internationally agreed upon definition of gambling harm. In addition, the current landscape of gambling policy and research uses inadequate proxy measures of harm, such as problem gambling symptomology, that contribute to a limited understanding of gambling harms. These issues impede efforts to address gambling from a public health perspective.

Methods

Data regarding harms from gambling was gathered using four separate methodologies, a literature review, focus groups and interviews with professionals involved in the support and treatment of gambling problems, interviews with people who gamble and their affected others, and an analysis of public forum posts for people experiencing problems with gambling and their affected others. The experience of harm related to gambling was examined to generate a conceptual framework. The catalogue of harms experienced were organised as a taxonomy.

Source: Langham, E., Thorne, H., Browne, M., Donaldson, P., Rose, J., & Rockloff, M. (2016). Understanding gambling related harm: a proposed definition, conceptual framework, and taxonomy of harms. BMC Public Health, 16, 80. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-016-2747-0