Managing the financial risks and harms from gambling: a lived experience perspective
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Institute for Health Transformation, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Australia
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1632
Background and Objective:
Government messages about gambling typically frame gambling as a financial risk, and harm as being the result of an individual’s choices. This study aimed to understand how people with lived experience of gambling harm conceptualise the financial risks and harms gambling can have, and how these were recognised and managed in their own lives.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted in Australia. The participants were fifteen gamblers who had experienced harm from their own gambling and six affected who had been harmed by a family member’s gambling. The data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.

Four themes were constructed from the data. First, participants did not generally think about the risks associated with gambling prior to experiencing harm. Those who did considered whether each bet was affordable. Second, they recognised gambling was harming them when their broader finances were negatively impacted by gambling losses. Third, the financial impact of gambling was managed by prioritising their expenses, limiting other spending, and borrowing money. Finally, the financial impact of gambling contributed to other long-term problems.

This study showed that messages about being financially responsible when gambling may not be effective as participants attempted to manage the financial impacts of gambling. Public messaging around gambling should move away from personal responsibility and instead highlight the realistic risks and harms gambling can have in the lives of gamblers and affected others.

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