Study Principal Investigator Dr Samantha Thomas said research was usually focused on problem gamblers with ‘next to no’ research being done on people who gamble for fun or those who feel they don’t have a problem with it.
“Most research is fixated on problem gamblers and psychological and social impacts associated with the negative aspects of gambling. While we’re not ignoring that exists we also believe that for most people who gamble, whether it’s a problem or not, that gambling has, at some stage, been a social, enjoyable past-time,” Dr Thomas said.
“At what point does it go from being a ‘bit of a harmless flutter’ to an issue that consumes their lives? At what point do gamblers realize they have a problem and does public messaging warning of the dangers of gambling have any influence on their thinking or behaviour?”
Dr Thomas said public messaging and support group programs specifically responded to problem gambling using poker machines. “We know that people’s gambling habits are much broader than poker machines and while the ‘pokies’ have been portrayed as ‘evil’ and ‘addictive’, problem gambling is also evident with people who bet online, through sports betting outlets or on casino tables,” Dr Thomas said.
Dr Thomas said the research involves extensive interviews and participants will be compensated for their time.
“Learning more about why people gamble, when they first started to gamble, and what their social sphere is like is incredibly important in being able to put into perspective behaviours and perceptions of gambling.”
Dr Thomas said one emerging trend in their research to date is that it appears people who bet on sporting outcomes often do so because they believe it requires skill and knowledge and that winning on ‘the punt’ is a sign of personal achievement rather than just financial gain.
“In contrast we see people who bet on poker machines believing more in ‘personal luck’ and a desire to ‘beat the system’ with their goal being a financial reward.
Dr Thomas said the team was particularly interested in the experiences of women. “Australia has high rates of gambling in women, and we are particularly interested to how women perceive their gambling activities,” Dr Thomas said.
Dr Thomas said it was important for government agencies, community help organisations and the industry to be provided with information about gambling behaviours that will contribute to shaping policy and community responses.
To arrange an interview with Dr Thomas contact Samantha Blair Media and Communications on + 61 3 9903 4841 or 0439 013 951. For more information about the study, email Sophie Lewis on [email protected]