Gambling is when someone risks something of value – usually money – on a chance. It can involve a number of different activities including betting, gambling on sports, lottery games, and gaming.
A wide variety of different types of gambling exist, from the traditional casino and poker to online and mobile phone gambling. The main reason people gamble is to win money, but there are other reasons as well. Many people gamble to alleviate stress, for social rewards, and to challenge themselves mentally.
Harms related to gambling are common and can be serious. They may result in financial and social problems, and have a negative impact on relationships with family and friends. They can also be a sign of a more serious problem, such as bipolar disorder or other mental health issues.
However, there is currently no consistent definition of harms that can be used to assess the level and severity of gambling related harm. The existing literature has relied on a number of measures including problem gambling diagnostic criteria, behavioural symptoms, and the experience of negative consequences. These measures are a step forward in understanding the harms that can be caused by gambling, but they are not always reliable and cannot be applied to all types of gambling.
Despite the existence of these measures, it is clear that there is still a need for a more coherent interpretation of the extent and impact of gambling related harm across treatment providers, policy makers and researchers. This paper aims to contribute to the development of a more consistent and robust interpretation of gambling harm.
Gambling related harm is the term used to describe the negative effects of gambling on a person, their family and friends. It is a term which is often used in public health approaches to gambling as a means of minimising the harms it causes.
This definition is consistent with the World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of health and aims to address the complexity associated with harms in relation to gambling by allowing for both subjective and socially constructed dimensions of harms. This is important as it allows for the breadth of gambling related harms to be included in research and policy making.
It recognises that harms can occur from the first time a person engages with gambling through to legacy and intergenerational harms. The inclusion of this broad range of harms helps to redress the lack of focus that has been placed on gambling related harms at a diagnostic point of problem gambling or only whilst engaging in gambling.
The breadth of experiences of harms from a person’s first engagement with gambling through to their legacy and intergenerational impacts provides a more holistic approach to assessing gambling related harm, particularly in a context where there is limited funding available for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling. This is also an important consideration in a context where gambling is a global issue and the potential for cross-national comparisons of harms may be difficult.