Deakin University
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Gamblers’ perceptions of responsibility for gambling harm: a critical qualitative inquiry

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-12-01, 00:00 authored by Sarah MarkoSarah Marko, Samantha ThomasSamantha Thomas, Kim RobinsonKim Robinson, M Daube
Background: Gambling has traditionally been conceptualised as an issue of addiction and personal responsibility. While there are now clear public health models that recognise that gambling harm is caused by a range of socio-cultural, environmental, commercial and political determinants, government and industry messages about gambling are still largely personal responsibility focused. Given the well-recognised issues associated with personal responsibility paradigms, this study sought to understand how gamblers themselves conceptualised responsibility for gambling harm. Methods: A qualitatively led online panel survey was conducted with 363 adult gamblers in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia. Participants were asked to respond to what they thought were the causes of gambling harm, and what could be done to prevent harm. A reflexive thematic analysis was conducted. Results: Six common tropes were constructed from gamblers’ responses: (1) Gambling in moderation; (2) Personal responsibility for rational behaviour; (3) Character flaws; (4) Personal responsibility to seek help; (5) More education is needed; and (6) Governments are responsible for action – but motivation and efficacy are questioned. Gamblers primarily understood gambling harm as being a matter of personal responsibility, and government responsibility was generally seen as limited to providing information to facilitate informed gambling choices. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that gamblers’ perceptions of gambling harm are similar to the personal responsibility framings and tropes present in industry and government messaging strategies. Refocusing public communication strategies away from ‘responsible gambling’ messaging, and towards evidence-based approaches, will be an important part of addressing the harms associated with gambling.



BMC Public Health







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal