Centre reveals new ways to target gambling harm

The research found many gamblers don’t want to receive help from formal services.

NEW insights into gambling addiction from those experiencing its harmful effects will help inform more effective treatment and interventions, according to the Centre for Gambling Research (CGR). 

Researchers at CGR, which is based at ANU, interviewed more than 50 people in the ACT asking about their experiences of gambling-related harm and the public health approaches to tackling the problem.

The research found many gamblers don’t want to receive help from formal services, are resistant when it’s offered and don’t consider the amount of time they spend gambling as an indicator of gambling harm.

CRG’s director Dr Marisa Fogarty said attitudes such as “gambling is not a problem if you can afford the losses” were common and terms such as “gamble responsibly” were considered counter-productive.

“What we found has given us significant insight into facilitating peoples’ ability to identify gambling harm and to develop strategies and identify appropriate resources to address gambling harm,” she said.

The report, “Informing Targeted Interventions for people Experiencing Gambling Harms” in the ACT recommends a holistic intervention approach.

Dr Fogarty said public health interventions into gambling harm have been “ad hoc”.

“Any public heath approach that does not target all areas of the community is likely to have limited impact,” she said.

“We need to better target the general population, as well as the at-risk groups in society and people already experiencing gambling harm in a co-ordinated fashion to have any real impact in preventing and helping people experiencing gambling harm.”

The report found partners, family and friends were overwhelmingly the most preferred option for talking to people about their gambling.

“With this information, we can support close family and friends in making an approach which is more likely to be heeded, whereas we found an approach from gambling venue staff for example, elicited strong emotions such as ‘horrified’, embarrassed’ and ‘ashamed’ from people we interviewed,” said Dr Fogarty.

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