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.


Gambling machine annexes as enabling spaces for addictive engagement

Adams, P. J., & Wiles, J.

The widespread proliferation of electronic gambling machines and improvements to their design have contributed to rising levels of gambling-related harm including harms associated with addictive behaviour and other impacts on health and wellbeing. Research into their addictive potential has focused mainly on the interface between gamblers and the machines themselves. We shift the focus onto the spatial contexts, the rooms and the venues, in which gambling machines are positioned. By examining a series of common layouts we identify the division of venues into two main areas: one for the main social activities of the venue (the “main hall”) and the other a partitioned area (the “annex”) in which gambling machines are tightly clumped in ways that discourage social interaction. Other features of the annex that encourage uninterrupted and solitary play include the absence of tables to socialize around, dimmed lighting and entry pathways that minimize scrutiny. We argue that these features promote a style of play more oriented towards heavy and problematic gambling. We also explore explanations for the nature of these annexes and discuss implications for public health.

Adams, P. J., & Wiles, J. (2017). Gambling machine annexes as enabling spaces for addictive engagement. Health & Place, 43, 1–7.