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.

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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

A review of research into problem gambling amongst Australian women – book chapter available online

Abstract: Australian women have one of the highest levels of access to gambling of anywhere in the world. Problem gambling amongst Australian women is now a critical public health issue, fuelled by the widespread expansion of electronic gaming machines in casinos and suburban hotels and clubs, growth in alternative gambling products, the liberalisation of social attitudes to gambling, and increased financial and social independence of women. Recent increased access to gambling through the Internet and social media has also diversified women’s experience of gambling problems. However, research into Australian women’s gambling has been minimal, despite concerns about the feminisation of gambling. This chapter aims to review research into problem gambling amongst Australian women, highlighting key findings, limitations, gaps in knowledge, implications, and future research directions.
Drawing on three decades of Australian research, including prevalence studies, in-depth qualitative studies and clinical studies, women’s gambling behaviour, motivations, problem gambling, help-seeking, treatment and support are examined. Comparisons between male and female problem gamblers, and between female recreational and female problem gamblers, will highlight distinctive aspects of women’s problem gambling. This review will deepen understanding, inform gambling policy and public health and clinical responses, and facilitate international comparisons.
Access book chapter online

Reference: SHing, N., Nuske, E., & Breen, H. (2019). A review of research into problem gambling amongst Australian women. In, Problem gambling in women: An international perspective. Lismore, Australia: Centre for Gambling Education and Research, Southern Cross University.

Predictors of gambling and problem gambling in Victoria, Australia [open access policy paper]

Abstract: In 2016, the gambling habits of a sample of 3361 adults in the state of Victoria, Australia, were surveyed. It was found that a number of factors that were highly correlated with self-reported gambling frequency and gambling problems were not significant predictors of gambling frequency and problem gambling. The major predictors of gambling frequency were the degree to which family members and peers were perceived to gamble, self-reported approval of gambling, the frequency of discussing gambling offline, and the participant’s Canadian Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) score. Age was a significant predictor of gambling frequency for certain types of gambling (e.g. buying lottery tickets). Approximately 91% of the explainable variance in the participant’s PGSI score could be explained by just five predictors: Positive Urgency; Frequency of playing poker machines at pubs, hotels or sporting clubs; Participation in online discussions of betting on gaming tables at casinos; Frequency of gambling on the internet, and Overestimating the chances of winning. Based on these findings, suggestions are made as to how gambling-related harm can be reduced. Access article online

Reference: Howe, P.D.L., Vargas-Sáenz, A., Hulbert, C.A., Boldero, J.M. (2019). Predictors of gambling and problem gambling in Victoria, Australia, PLoS ONE 14(1), e0209277. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209277

Trajectories of social and economic outcomes and problem gambling risk in Australia [open access report]

Description: Researchers are increasingly recognising the importance of longitudinal data in providing valuable information on individuals to better understand gambling behaviour, trajectories, risks and consequences … 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 [continues]. Access full report

Citation: Fogarty, M., Taylor, M., and 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.