Deakin University
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How Do People With Intellectual Disability Engage With and Understand Gambling? A Qualitative Study of Adults in Victoria, Australia

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-01-12, 00:00 authored by Hannah PittHannah Pitt, Samantha ThomasSamantha Thomas, Joanne WatsonJoanne Watson, Russell ShuttleworthRussell Shuttleworth, Kevin Murfitt, Susan Balandin
Objective: This study aimed to understand the factors that may influence how and why people with intellectual disability may engage in gambling.

Method: Nineteen people with intellectual disability were recruited from a disability advocacy organization and participated in face to face, semi-structured qualitative interviews. Open ended questions were used to explore participants' gambling participation, recall of, and attitudes toward, different gambling products, understanding of gambling harm, and awareness of responsible gambling messages.

Results: All participants could remember gambling in their lifetime and some participants had recently engaged in gambling. Many participants were aware of different gambling products, and a few participants could describe in detail the technical aspects of electronic gambling machines. Most participants did not specifically recall seeing gambling harm minimization messages, however some described engaging in individual responsibility measures, such as limits and control, as they perceived this reduced the risks of experiencing harm.

Conclusions: People with intellectual disability are engaging with gambling products in a similar way to the general community. Therefore, it is important to understand the different pathways that may lead people with intellectual disability to initiate and continue gambling and to ensure that they are aware of and protected from the potential risk.

Implications for Public Health: Policy makers and practitioners should seek to understand and implement a range of strategies to reduce and prevent the harms associated with particular gambling products and environments for this population sub-group.



Frontiers in Public Health



Article number



1 - 10


Frontiers Media


Lausanne, Switzerland







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2021, Pitt, Thomas, Watson, Shuttleworth, Murfitt and Balandin