A Functional Definition of Gambling Related Harm

February 3, 2023 by No Comments

Gambling is an activity where people risk money or other things of value for a chance at winning something. It can take many forms, from scratch cards and fruit machines to betting with friends on sporting events. Some people also gamble through online gambling sites.

For some people, gambling is a fun way to socialise and relax. But for others, it can become a serious problem that impacts their finances, family relationships and their health. If you think you may be experiencing a gambling problem, talk to a professional about getting help.

Harm from Gambling

There are a range of ways harm can occur from gambling, and they can be caused by a person’s behaviour or environment. These harms can be exacerbated by comorbidities and lead to reduced health and wellbeing outcomes for individuals, families, communities and the wider societal context.

A Functional Definition of Gambling Related Harm

There is a need for a functional definition that is able to operationalise and measure gambling related harm consistent with standard public health approaches. The existing gambling harm definitions in use are limited in their applicability to gambling and broader public health issues and are often too simplistic or inadequate in their scope for measurement.

Moreover, the current landscape of gambling policy and research uses inadequate proxy measures of harm, such as problem gambling symptomology, that further limit our understanding of gambling harms. This is especially the case when comparing harms across different populations or time periods.

As such, a robust and inclusive international definition of gambling harm is needed to better understand gambling related harms and inform policy and practice in this area. To achieve this, it was important to consider gambling related harm in the context of social models of health.

The conceptual framework developed by the author has been informed by a review of previous work on gambling and harm. The review identified two clear themes or classifications that were clearly evident in the experience of harm: one was a distinction between harm as an outcome and a comorbidity and the second was a temporal category within the experience of harm, namely that there was often a time point where the harm experienced reflected a crisis in the context of the gambling engagement.

To capture these two themes in a single concept, the author has used a functional definition that defines harm as an outcome that can occur to any person. It is the first gambling related harm definition to explicitly separate the harm as an outcome from related, but distinct, issues such as behavioural categorisations of gambling, clinical diagnosis, risk factors and the broader environment in which gambling occurs.

It was also important to include the impact of a gambling related harm on others and their communities in this definition, including people working in the gambling industry and those nvolved in treatment and support services for those who experience problems with gambling.

This has led to the creation of a new and more robust gambling related harm definition, which is based on an assessment of the breadth and depth of harms experienced by the person who gambles, their affected others and their communities. This is a useful contribution to the ongoing debate around harms, allowing for a comprehensive conceptualisation of gambling related harm and its consequences.