Gambling is a common behaviour that can have a negative impact on a person’s life and their relationships. It can also be dangerous or addictive and may lead to serious financial problems if not addressed.
There are many forms of gambling, including lotteries, sports betting, and online casinos. They can be a great way to spend time with friends or have a relaxing night out, but they can be harmful for some people.
Problem gambling is the excessive gambling of money or other valuables, which can lead to serious mental health and social problems. It is a disorder that can be treated like any other addiction.
Harm minimisation is an approach that is often used by public health professionals, policy makers and researchers in terms of prevention and treatment of problem gambling. However, harm minimisation is often viewed as a simplistic term and there has been little evidence to show that it provides a valid measure of the scale and severity of the impact that gambling can have on a person’s life.
The concept of harm is a highly subjective one and is influenced by a number of factors. These include: the range of experiences of harm, the complexity of the inter-relationships between different domains of a person’s life, and the subjectivity of what is considered to be harmful.
As part of the research project, a range of data was gathered from different sources to provide a more complete picture of the experiences of harm. This included a series of focus groups and semi-structured interviews, which were conducted in person and via telephone.
Those who gambled were surveyed about the extent of their gambling, and those who were affected by someone else’s gambling were surveyed about their experience of harm. The results showed that there were a range of harms, with some individuals reporting more severe damage than others.
The first phase of the study identified six categories of harm that were classified by the participants. These were: general harms, financial harms, harms related to relationships, emotional or psychological harms, impacts on the person’s health, and impacts on work, study or economic activity.
In addition, the data showed that there were a number of instances where general harms were experienced from an individual’s initial engagement with gambling through to their continued involvement with the behaviour. These were categorised as ‘legacy harms’.
These were defined as harms that remain present even after a person has ceased their gambling engagement, or someone they are responsible for has stopped gambling. This was a major highlight of the data collection process and provides a basis for further analysis of the experience of harm in this context.
The research aims to provide a more coherent definition of harm for people who engage with gambling and those who experience the consequences of their behaviour. This will allow researchers, clinicians and treatment providers to more easily communicate the breadth of harm that can be experienced by those who engage with gambling and help to provide a more consistent approach to reducing gambling related harm.