Do EGMs have a stronger association with problem gambling than racing and casino table games? Evidence from a decade of Australian prevalence studies [subscription access article]

Abstract
Although it is often assumed that electronic gaming machines (EGMs) are associated with the highest level of risk, it has proved difficult to find reliable evidence in support of this proposition. In this paper, we analysed statistics from major Australian community prevalence studies for the period 2011–2020 to investigate whether EGMs (in comparison to racing and casino table games) have a stronger association with problem gambling.

All prevalence studies reviewed used telephone sampling and the Problem Gambling Severity Index to assess problem gambling. In this paper, we examine the principal hypothesis using several lines of evidence, including whether problem gamblers are more likely to gamble and gamble regularly on EGMs as opposed to racing and casino games and if the EGM-problem gambling association was maintained after controlling for other forms of participation.

Results showed that of all gambling activities, EGMs do appear to have the strongest association with problem gambling. Despite having a disproportionately higher level of participation on racing and casino games as compared with other gamblers, problem gamblers are more likely to report regular or weekly participation in EGM gambling and this may be the reason why this activity emerges most strongly as a predictor of problem gambling in multivariate models. This finding is particularly salient, given the very high prevalence of EGM participation, compared to other risky gambling forms.

The findings underscore the importance of survey reporting that presents results in a form that can inform policy relevant research relating to the potential impact of different gambling activities. Article details and access options

Citation: Delfabbro, P., King, D.L., Browne, M. et al. Do EGMs have a Stronger Association with Problem Gambling than Racing and Casino Table Games? Evidence from a Decade of Australian Prevalence Studies. J Gambl Stud (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-020-09950-5:

‘Everyone knows grandma’. Pathways to gambling venues in regional Australia [subscription article]

Abstract
In regional Australia, families (including children), attend community venues that contain gambling products, such as electronic gambling machines (EGMs), for a range of non-gambling reasons. However, there is a gap in research that seeks to understand how these venues may become embedded into family social practices. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and cultural capital, this paper aimed to explore factors that influence family decisions to attend venues and perceptions of risk associated with children’s exposure to gambling products. Face-to-face qualitative interviews were conducted with 31 parents who attended community gambling venues with their children, in New South Wales, Australia. Families attended venues for three key reasons, first because of the influence of others in their social networks, second for regular social activities and third because of structural factors such as a lack of alternative, affordable, family friendly environments in their local area. Despite recognizing the harm associated with EGMs, parents distanced themselves from EGM harm with all parents perceiving venues to be an appropriate space for families. Research in this study indicates that family social practices within venues affect perceptions of risk associated with community gambling venues. The impact of these practices on longer-term health requires more investigation by public health and health promotion researchers and practitioners. Health promotion initiatives should consider identifying alternative sources of support and/or developing alternative social spaces for families in regional communities that do not contain gambling products. Link to the article

Citation: Bestman, A., Thomas, S.L. Randle, M., Pitt, H., Cassidy, R., Daube, M. (2019). ‘Everyone knows grandma’. Pathways to gambling venues in regional Australia, Health Promotion International, , daz120, https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daz120

Gambling activity among teenagers and their parents [Growing up in Australia longitudinal study]

Key Findings:

  • Despite being illegal, one in six 16-17 year olds reported having gambled in the past year.
  • More boys than girls reported having gambled on private betting, sports betting and poker.
  • Although 65% of parents reported having gambled at least once in the past year, the majority (around 90%) were non-problem gamblers.
  • Boys who had either been the victim or perpetrator of bullying at school were more likely to report having gambled.
  • At age 16-17, around one in four boys (24%) and one in seven girls (15%) reported having played gambling-like games in the past 12 months.
  • Teenagers who engaged in risky behaviours such as smoking and drinking, or had friends who smoked or drank alcohol, were more likely to report having gambled. Link to the article

Citation: Warren, D., & Yu, M. (2019). Gambling activity among teenagers and their parents. LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2018. Retrieved from: https://growingupinaustralia.gov.au/research-findings/gambling-activity-among-teenagers-and-their-parents

Social capital and gambling: Evidence from Australia [subscription-access article]

Abstract
The prevalence of problem gambling in many countries necessitates research that examines factors influencing excessive and addictive consumption. We consider how social capital impacts gambling participation for a large representative sample of the Australian population. Specifically, we examine the association between social capital and gambling addiction using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. We address the endogeneity of social capital by instrumenting for social capital using an urban/rural reversed measure of ethnic diversity. Our main findings suggest that higher levels of social capital are associated with lower gambling risks measured by the Problem Gambling Severity Index. This general finding is robust to alternative ways of measuring social capital and gambling, and alternative estimation approaches. We also find that the effect of social capital is stronger in the case of problem gamblers compared to gamblers in other risk categories.
Link to article details and access conditions

APA Citation: Awaworyi Churchill, S. & Farrell, L. (2019). Social capital and gambling: Evidence from Australia. Journal of Gambling Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09901-9

Isolating the impact of specific gambling activities and modes on problem gambling and psychological distress in internet gamblers [article]

Abstract
Background: Gambling disorder is related to high overall gambling engagement; however specific activities and modalities are thought to have stronger relationships with gambling problems. This study aimed to isolate the relationship between specific gambling activities and modalities (Internet and venue/land-based) to gambling disorder and general psychological distress. Past-month Internet gamblers were the focus of this investigation because this modality may be associated with gambling disorders in a unique way that needs to be separated from overall gambling intensity.

Methods: Australians who had gambled online in the prior 30 days (N = 998, 57% male) were recruited through a market research company to complete an online survey measuring self-reported gambling participation, problem gambling severity, and psychological distress.

Results: When controlling for overall gambling frequency, problem gambling was significantly positively associated with the frequency of online and venue-based gambling using electronic gaming machines (EGMs) and venue-based sports betting. Psychological distress was uniquely associated with higher frequency of venue gambling using EGMs, sports betting, and casino card/table games.

Conclusions: This study advances our understanding of how specific gambling activities are associated with disordered gambling and psychological distress in users of Internet gambling services. Our results suggest that among Internet gamblers, online and land-based EGMs are strongly associated with gambling disorder severity. High overall gambling engagement is an important predictor of gambling-related harms, nonetheless, venue-based EGMs, sports betting and casinos warrant specific attention to address gambling-related harms and psychological distress among gamblers.
Link to the article

Citation: Gainsbury, S.M., Angus, D.J. & Blaszczynski, A. (2019). Isolating the impact of specific gambling activities and modes on problem gambling and psychological distress in internet gamblers. BMC Public Health, 19(1372). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7738-5

The revolving door between government and the alcohol, food and gambling industries in Australia [open-access article]

Key points

  • More than one-third of people registered on the Australian Government Register of Lobbyists have previously been government representatives
  • The political ‘revolving door’ between government and the alcohol, food and gambling industries potentially undermines good public health policy by creating an imbalance between the influence of industry and that of public health advocacy
  • Mechanisms for ensuring healthy and transparent governance need to be established, potentially including revisions to Ministerial codes and public servant conditions, and a Federal anticorruption body
    Link to the article

Citation: Robertson NM, Sacks G, Miller PG. (2019). The revolving door between government and the alcohol, food and gambling industries in Australia. Public Health Research and Practice, 29(3):e2931921.  https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp2931921

What can be done to reduce the public stigma of gambling disorder? Lessons from other stigmatised conditions [subscription access article].

Abstract: Gambling is embedded in Australian cultural history, and perceived as a normal, legitimate leisure activity. Despite this normalisation, people who experience gambling problems are heavily stigmatised which can lead to a variety of harms that extend beyond the individual. The stigma from the general public appears to be based on a stereotype of a typical “problem gambler”—selfish, greedy, impulsive and irresponsible. However, research suggests that people experiencing gambling problems have widely varying characteristics and do not conform to this stereotype. Regardless of whether the stigma is justified, it is both present and problematic. Gamblers experiencing problems delay help-seeking due to feelings of shame and, not unwarranted, expectations of negative judgement because of the heavy stigma associated with the stereotype. As stigma is a primary barrier to treatment and a reason why gambling problems can take longer to acknowledge, it is important to understand and address how stigma can be reduced to minimise the negative consequences of gambling on individuals, their families and friends and the wider community. There is little research on reducing gambling-related stigma, so there is a need to examine strategies used in other stigmatised conditions, such as mental health, to understand the general principles of effective stigma reduction measures. Because gambling disorder is unique, well-hidden and consequently not well understood, there is a need to recognise that techniques used in other domains may differ in their effectiveness within the context of gambling stigma. Article details and access conditions

Citation: Brown, K.L., & Russell, A.M.T. What can be done to reduce the public stigma of gambling disorder? Lessons from other stigmatised conditions. Journal of Gambling Studies. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09890-9.

Promoting cross-sector collaboration and input into care planning via an integrated problem gambling and mental health service [open-access article].

Abstract: Although problem gambling and mental illnesses are highly comorbid, there are few examples of integrated problem gambling and mental illness services. This has meant that it is unclear whether such services are needed, why they may be used, and how they operate to support clients who are affected by the comorbidity and the clinicians who are providing care. This study reports on data collected via telephone questionnaire-assisted interviews of 20 clients and 19 referrers who had accessed one such Australian integrated problem gambling and mental illness program between July 2014 and June 2016.
Data revealed that clients were often referred in the context of psychiatric or psychosocial crisis, or when clinicians encountered clients who were not making progress and wanted a second opinion about diagnosis and treatment. Improved management of illness symptoms or gambling behaviour was a commonly reported benefit, and a number of clients reported gaining a feeling of reassurance and hope following assessment as a result of a deeper understanding of their issues and available treatment options. Access to dual-specialist expertise on problem gambling and mental illness may therefore enhance treatment planning, management during crises, and cross-sector collaboration to improve access to care and its impact on people who are experiencing comorbidity. Article available online

Reference: McCartney, L.E., Northe, V., Gordon, S., Symons, E., Shields, R., Kennedy, A., & Lee, S.J. (2019). Promoting cross-sector collaboration and input into care planning via an integrated problem gambling and mental health service. Journal of Gambling Issues, 42.

The lie of ‘responsible gambling’: Australia’s world-beating gambling addiction and the deception hiding it [open-access article].

[From the introduction]: One explanation for Australia’s world-record gambling spend is cultural preference. From Birdsville to the trenches, a love of the punt has supposedly been central to national identity. The other explanation for why Australians became the world’s biggest gamblers during the 1990s was that the expansion of gambling was a deliberate government policy choice.
Australia was not a highly ranked gambling nation in the 1970s. There was betting at race tracks, at government-¬owned TABs and on lotteries. Sports betting was illegal and although there were poker machines in clubs in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, these were unsophisticated contraptions that could only be played with small coins. Even the first casinos in regional centres were pokies-free.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, state governments became cash-strapped because of the abolition of various taxes (including death and gift duties), and burgeoning demands on health, education and community services. With the exception of resource-rich Western Australia (where pokies are confined to the casino), governments turned to poker machines to help resolve the revenue shortfall. Pokies were introduced into pubs and clubs not in response to public pressure but in spite of it. In Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia the policy change was opposed by a majority of the population. Their governments pressed on regardless. Article available online

Reference: Boyce, J. (2019).  The lie of ‘responsible gambling’: Australia’s world-beating gambling addiction and the deception hiding it. The Monthly, (June). Retrieved from https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2019/june/1559397600/james-boyce/lie-responsible-gambling

Trajectories of social and economic outcomes and problem gambling risk in Australia [open-access government working paper].

Introduction: Researchers are increasingly recognising the importance of longitudinal data in providing valuable information on individuals to better understand gambling behaviour, trajectories, risks and consequences. However, relatively few longitudinal surveys have a significant focus on gambling.
This paper makes use of a longitudinal data source that has, for the first time, included questions on gambling behaviour in Australia: the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The HILDA survey included gambling questions for the first time in 2015 (wave 15). Although the HILDA survey currently provides data on gambling at a single point in time, there are data on the individuals back to 2001, in most cases. This paper uses selected social, economic and health variables, and analyses their trajectories over time across the gambling risk categories measured in 2015. The paper explores economic variables (household income, employment, qualifications, financial hardship, risk and stress) and selected social variables (life satisfaction, psychological distress, alcohol intake and smoking) from multiple HILDA waves.
The analysis clearly shows that problem gamblers experience significantly worse outcomes than those without gambling problems, and poor outcomes go back a number of years. In a number of cases, outcomes are becoming progressively poorer, which may suggest either increasingly risky gambling behaviour or the cumulative effects of a sustained period of problem gambling. Low- and moderate-risk gamblers have better economic, social and health outcomes than problem gamblers, but, in most cases, worse outcomes than those without gambling-related problems. Again, these differences go back a number of years. Exploring these particular variables in respect of problem gambling risk provides insights that may inform prevention and early intervention strategies to reduce gambling harm. Working paper available online

Reference: Fogarty, M., Taylor, M., & Gray, M. (2018). Trajectories of social and economic outcomes and problem gambling risk in Australia [CSRM Working Paper No. 9]. ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, ANU, Canberra. Retrieved from https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/154612