Gambling Harms


Gambling is a risky behaviour where someone risks something of value to win money or prizes. It can include gambling on lottery tickets, sports betting, playing the pokies and a range of other games including baccarat and roulette. It can also involve wagering on business, insurance or stock markets.

Traditionally gambling was a relatively regulated activity with many social and legal restrictions on the behaviour, however the increase in availability of online and mobile casino gaming has increased access to a variety of forms of gambling. It can be a fun and exciting way to spend time but is also a high risk behaviour that can have negative consequences.

A person can be diagnosed with a gambling problem if they have a strong, persistent desire to gamble and cannot stop doing so. They need help to address their gambling problem and avoid the harms it causes.

Harms can be experienced in three different ways at the person who gambles, affected others and broader community levels. This is in contrast to the more usual view of harms, which only encompasses harms that are triggered whilst a person engages with gambling.

1. Initial Harms: People who gamble can experience emotional and psychological distress from their gambling. They may also feel that their behaviour is out of control and experience distorted cognitions, erroneous beliefs and feelings of powerlessness.

2. Further Order Harms: Those experiencing more problematic gambling behaviours can experience additional harms from their behaviour that may be difficult to identify or understand. They may have difficulties with their relationships, family and friends. They may be having financial problems as a result of their gambling.

3. Relationship distortion: Children and family members of a person who gambles may be impacted by their parent’s gambling behaviour, especially when they are not involved in the decision making. They may be expected to assume a carer role in the household or have to take on responsibilities that were once their own, such as providing for their parents’ needs.

4. Stigma: The stigma associated with gambling is widespread and affects both the person who gambles and those affected by their behaviour. It can be felt at all levels of gambling engagement, and is often exacerbated by negative media coverage.

5. Stigma can be particularly harmful when a person’s gambling is perceived to have caused damage to their reputation or career. This can lead to a person feeling that they are not worthy of support and that other people will judge them and their actions negatively.

6. The impact of gambling on a person’s health and wellbeing is also significant. This can include a number of short term impacts such as headaches and migraines, but they can also contribute to long term impacts such as increasing comorbidities and the likelihood of developing chronic disease, such as diabetes or depression.

7. Gambling is one of the most widespread and addictive forms of entertainment in the world, affecting up to four in five adults.