The gambling establishment: Challenging the power of the modern gambling industry and its allies / by Jim Orford. [pre-publication book announcement].

Description: There are now signs that, after decades of phenomenal growth, the era of unrestrained gambling liberalisation may be coming to an end. However, the power of The Gambling Establishment is formidable and it will certainly fight back. Drawing on research and policy examples from around the world, the book provides a unified understanding of the dangerousness of modern commercialised gambling, how its expansion has been deliberately or inadvertently supported, and how the backlash is now occurring.
The term Gambling Establishment is defined to include the industry which sells gambling, governments which support it, and a wider network of organisations and individuals who have subscribed to the ‘responsible gambling’ Establishment discourse. Topics covered include: the psychology of how gambling is now being advertised and promoted and the way it is designed to deceive gamblers about their chances of winning; the increased exposure of young people to gambling and the alignment of gambling with sport; understanding the experience of gambling addiction; the various public health harms of gambling at individual, family, community and societal levels; and how evidence has been used to resist change. The book’s final chapter offers the author’s manifesto for policy change, designed with Britain particularly in mind but likely to have relevance elsewhere.
With detailed examples given of the ways a number of countries are responding to these threats to their citizens’ health, this book will be of global interest for academics, researchers, policymakers and service providers in the field of gambling or other addictions specifically, and public health and social policy generally. Book details

Contents: Introduction 01. The new backlash against the growth of commercial gambling 02. The Gambling Establishment: the industry and its allies inside and outside government 03. The Establishment discourse: five ways we were told how to think about gambling 04. How Gambling is forcibly advertised and sold in the modern era 05. Is modern gambling fraudulent? How players are deceived about the chances of winning 06. Understanding gambling addiction: bringing personal experience and theory together 07. Gambling’s harm to individuals, families, communities and society 08. How the Gambling Establishment has used evidence to support Its position 09. Resisting the power of the Gambling Establishment: A Manifesto for Change.

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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

Evaluating changes in electronic gambling machine policy on user losses in an Australian jurisdiction [open-access article].

Background: Electronic gambling machines (EGMs) are in casinos and community venues (hotels and clubs) in all jurisdictions in Australia, except Western Australia (only in casino). EGMs have a range of features that can affect how people gamble, which can influence losses incurred by users. The Northern Territory Government recently changed two EGM policies – the introduction of note acceptors on EGMs in community venues, and an increase in the cap from 10 to 20 EGMs in hotels and 45 to 55 in clubs. This study evaluates two changes in EGM policy on user losses in community venues, and tracks changes in user losses per adult, EGM gambler, and EGM problem/moderate risk gambler between 2005 and 2015. Access online article

Reference: Stevens, M. & Livingstone, C. (2019). Evaluating changes in electronic gambling machine policy on user losses in an Australian jurisdiction. BMC Public Health, 19(517). Retrieved from https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-6814-1

Gamblers’ (mis-)interpretations of Problem Gambling Severity Index items: Ambiguities in qualitative accounts from the Swedish longitudinal gambling study [open-access article]

Abstract: The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) is a screening instrument frequently used to identify risk and problem gambling. Even though the PGSI has good psychometric properties, it still produces a large proportion of misclassifications. Aims: To explore possible reasons for misclassifications in problem gambling level by analysing previously classified moderate-risk gamblers’ answers to the PGSI items, in relation to their own current and past gambling behaviours.
Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 19 participants reporting no negative consequences from gambling. They were asked the PGSI questions within an eight-year time frame (2008 to 2016). Ambiguous answers to PGSI items were subject to content analysis.
Results: Several answers to the PGSI items contained ambiguities and misinterpretations, making it difficult to assess to what extent their answers actually indicated any problematic gambling over time. The item about feelings of guilt generated accounts rather reflecting self-recrimination over wasting money or regretting gambling as a meaningless or immoral activity. The item concerning critique involved mild interpretations such as being ridiculed for buying lottery tickets or getting comments for being boring. Similar accounts were given by the participants irrespective of initial
endorsement of the items. Other possible reasons for misclassifications were related to recall bias, language difficulties, selective memory, and a tendency to answer one part of the question without taking the whole question into account.
Conclusions: Answers to the PGSI can contain a variety of meanings based on the respondents’ subjective interpretations. Reports of lower levels of harm in the population should thus be interpreted with caution. In clinical settings it is important to combine use of screening instruments with interviews, to be able to better understand gamblers’ perceptions of the gambling behaviour and its negative consequences.
Article available online

Reference: Samuelsson, E., Wennberg, P., & Sundqvist, K. (2019). Gamblers’ (mis-)interpretations of Problem Gambling Severity Index items: Ambiguities in qualitative accounts from the Swedish longitudinal gambling study. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 36(2), 140–160. DOI: 10.1177/1455072519829407

Framing a public health approach to gambling harms in Wales: Challenges and opportunities


Available online – Report commissioned by Public Health Wales takes a broader perspective on the impact of gambling than previous traditional medical perspectives.


Introduction: Recent years have seen substantial increases in the availability of gambling. In Great Britain, the gambling industry’s annual Gross Gambling Yield (GGY; that is, the difference between bets paid in and bets paid out) has increased to £14.4bn in 2017/18. This suggests that either more people are gambling or that those who do gamble are spending more money gambling than previously. These observations, along with rapid technological changes that now provide gambling products and services through online and mobile platforms to more sectors of the population, have heightened concerns about the numbers of people at-risk of experiencing gambling harms and associated social costs Access full report

Reference: Rogers, R.D., Wardle, H., Sharp, C.A., Dymond, S., Davies, T.J., Hughes, K. & Astbury, G. (2019). Framing a public health approach to gambling harms in Wales: Challenges and opportunities. Cardiff: Public Health Wales.

A mapping review of research on gambling harm in three regulatory environments [open access article]

Background: Harmful gambling is a complex issue with diverse antecedents and resulting harms that have been studied from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Although previous bibliometric reviews of gambling studies have found a dominance of judgement and decision-making research, no bibliometric review has examined the concept of “harm” in the gambling literature, and little work has quantitatively assessed how gambling research priorities differ between countries.

Methods: Guided by the Conceptual Framework of Harmful Gambling (CFHG), an internationally relevant framework of antecedents to harmful gambling, we conducted a bibliometric analysis focusing on research outputs from three countries with different gambling regulatory environments: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Using a Web of Science database search, 1424 articles published from 2008 to 2017 were retrieved that could be mapped to the eight CFHG factors. A subsample of articles (n = 171) containing the word “harm” in the title, abstract, or keywords was then drawn. Descriptive statistics were used to examine differences between countries and trends over time with regard to CFHG factor and harm focus

Results: Psychological and biological factors dominate gambling research in Canada whereas resources and treatment have received more attention in New Zealand. A greater percentage of Australia and New Zealand publications address the gambling environment and exposure to gambling than in Canada. The subset of articles focused on harm showed a stronger harms focus among New Zealand and Australian researchers compared to Canadian-authored publications.

Conclusions: The findings provide preliminary bibliometric evidence that gambling research foci may be shaped by jurisdictional regulation of gambling. Countries with privately operated gambling focused on harm factors that are the operators’ responsibility, whereas jurisdictions with a public health model focused on treatment and harm reduction resources. In the absence of a legislated requirement for public health or harm minimisation focus, researchers in jurisdictions with government-operated gambling tend to focus research on factors that are the individual’s responsibility and less on the harms they experience. Given increased international attention to gambling-related harm, regulatory and research environments could promote and support more diverse research in this area. Access full article

Reference: Baxter, D.G., Hilbrecht, M., Wheaton, C.T.J. (2019). A mapping review of research on gambling harm in three regulatory environments. Harm Reduction Journal, 16(12). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-018-0265-3

Effects of prevention and harm reduction interventions on gambling behaviours and gambling related harm: An umbrella review [open access article]

Background
Harms related to gambling have been found not only to affect problem gamblers, but also to occur amongst low- and moderate-risk gamblers. This has resulted in calls for a public health approach to address a possible ‘prevention paradox’ in gambling related harm. The aim of this study was to evaluate the systematic review evidence base on the effects of prevention and harm reduction interventions on gambling behaviours, and gambling related harm. We also aimed to examine differential effects of interventions across socio-demographic groups. Access full article

Highlights

  • First umbrella review evaluating the effectives of prevention and harm reduction interventions on gambling behaviour.
  • Found evidence of 10 reviews reporting 55 unique primary studies.
  • Evidence relates mostly to pre-commitment/limit setting, self-exclusion, youth prevention programmes and messages/feedback.
  • Review-level evidence is poor, and no review reported differential effects of interventions across sociodemographic groups.

Naoimh McMahon, Katie Thomson, Eileen Kaner, & Clare Bambra. (2019). Addictive Behaviors, 90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.11.048.