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Gambling Harms

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Gambling is any activity that involves the risk of losing money or something valuable, such as a ticket to the lottery, a bet on a sporting event or playing the pokies. It is an increasingly popular pastime that can be found in most countries around the world.

People gamble for a variety of reasons, from taking their mind off things to socializing with friends. They also may gamble to get a feeling of euphoria or to experience the thrill of a jackpot win.

Some forms of gambling are regulated and other forms are illegal. The type of gambling you engage in may be affected by your income, where you live, whether or not there are casinos near you, and the types of games you like to play.

Harms related to gambling are widespread, often affecting families and communities. They can range from short term financial hardship to long-term psychological problems, and can impact on individuals, families and groups.

Understanding the harms that are experienced by those who gamble is essential to developing a better understanding of how to prevent and treat problem gambling. A better understanding of gambling harms will help researchers, treatment providers and those involved in developing public policy to develop more effective approaches to reducing and preventing gambling related harms.

This study sought to address this gap by providing a robust, comprehensive definition of gambling related harms that captures the full breadth of harms associated with gambling, from an individual level to a wider community and social context. This is achieved by generating a conceptual framework and taxonomy of gambling related harms that is based on the experience of those who have been impacted by gambling, as well as consultation with experts and community sources.

The conceptual framework and taxonomy of gambling harms are both aimed at an intended audience of researchers, treatment providers and those involved in developing gambling related public policy. They are based on the evidence on gambling harms and consultation with experts and community sources described in the next section, to provide an inclusive, robust definition of gambling harm that can be used to develop more appropriate measures of harm.

In addition, the proposed definition of gambling harms focuses on consequences rather than causes or symptoms and allows for the inclusion of subjective and socially constructed harms that are not influenced by categorisations of behaviour, clinical diagnosis or risk factors. This is consistent with the definition of health that is endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The conceptual framework and taxonomy of harms were developed from data collected through a range of methodologies, including a literature review, focus groups and interviews with professionals involved in the support and treatment of gambling problems, as well as semi-structured interviews with people who gambled or had affected others, and an analysis of public forum posts for those who had been impacted by gambling. The harms that were gathered were grouped into two categories: general financial and general non-financial harms.

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