The Impact of Gambling
Gambling is an activity in which a person puts something of value, usually money, at risk on the outcome of a random event that could involve some degree of skill. Typical examples include betting on football or horse races, playing card games or video poker machines, buying lottery tickets and instant scratch cards or making wagers about business or stock market movements. Speculation on events such as wars, elections and weather also constitutes gambling.
People have been gambling since the dawn of human society and it is a fundamental part of our social and economic fabric. But for some, gambling is a problem. Problem gambling can damage a person’s physical and mental health, interfere with relationships and work or study performance and lead to financial difficulties including debt, homelessness, family violence and suicide. It can also have a profound effect on the broader community.
Efforts to reduce harm from gambling have been focused on identifying and assessing the impact of harmful behaviour. But the definition of harm in relation to gambling is not well established. Previous measures have relied on diagnostic criteria or behavioural symptoms, which have proven to be overly simplistic and inadequate for the purpose of measuring the impact of gambling on individuals.
The conceptual framework developed by Abbott et al  provides a more thorough understanding of the impact of gambling by distinguishing between harmful and non-harmful gambling, and it separates these from problem and recreational gambling. Moreover, it recognises that the impact of gambling is not limited to an individual’s life and includes impacts on those close to the gambler, their family, friends and the broader community. It also takes a public health approach to measure the impact of gambling using standard techniques used in other areas of public health such as smoking and obesity.
The initial themes identified through comparison of data on the experience of gambling-related harms suggested that these were grouped into clear categories of harm. These included financial harms, harms affecting relationship and emotional wellbeing, impacts on performance at work or study and impacting on the community and, notably, criminal acts. Further analysis of the data from CALD groups and indigenous populations identified a seventh category of harm: cultural harms.
There are a number of things that can be done to help someone who is struggling with their gambling addiction. For example, they can strengthen their support network by reaching out to family and friends or joining a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is a 12-step recovery program patterned on Alcoholics Anonymous. Alternatively, they can seek professional help.
Another way of addressing the issue is to try and limit their access to gambling opportunities. For instance, removing credit cards from their possession, having someone else in charge of the finances and closing online betting accounts are all ways of trying to limit the temptation. Lastly, they can start to look at their own reasons for gambling. Often, they do it as a way to relieve stress or as a distraction from problems in their lives.
Gambling is an activity in which a person puts something of value, usually money, at risk on the outcome of a random event that could involve some degree of skill. Typical examples include betting on football or horse races, playing card games or video poker machines, buying lottery tickets and instant scratch cards or making…