Excessive time and money spent on gambling can result in harms, not only to people experiencing a gambling problem but also to their close family and friends (“concerned significant others”; CSOs). The current study aimed to explore whether, and to what extent, CSOs experience decrements to their wellbeing due to another person’s gambling.
We analysed data from The Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA; N = 19,064) and the Canadian Quinte Longitudinal Study (QLS; N = 3,904). Participants either self-identified as CSOs (QLS) or were identified by living in a household with a person classified in the problem gambling category by the PGSI (HILDA). Subjective well-being was measured using the Personal Wellbeing Index and single-item questions on happiness and satisfaction with life.
CSOs reported lower subjective wellbeing than non-CSOs across both countries and on all three wellbeing measures. CSO status remained a significant predictor of lower wellbeing after controlling for demographic and socio-economic factors, and own-gambling problems. There were no significant differences across various relationships to the gambler, by gender, or between household and non-household CSOs.
Discussion and Conclusions
Gambling-related harms experienced by CSOs was reliably associated with a decrease in wellbeing. This decrement to CSO’s wellbeing was not as strong as that experienced by the person with the first-order gambling problem. Nevertheless, wellbeing decrements to CSOs are not limited to those living with a person with gambling problems in the household and thus affect many people.
Concerned significant others (CSOs) can experience gambling-related harm, impacting their health and wellbeing. However, this harm varies depending on the type and closeness of the relationship with the person who gambles. We sought to determine the type and closeness of relationships that are more likely to experience harm from another person's gambling, and examine which aspects of health and wellbeing are related to this harm.
We examined survey data from 1,131 Australian adults who identified as being close to someone experiencing a gambling problem. The survey included information on relationship closeness, gambling-related harm (GHS-20-AO), and a broad range of health and wellbeing measures; including the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI), the 12-item Short Form Survey (SF-12), and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule Short Form (PANAS-SF).
CSOs in relationships where finances and responsibilities are shared were more likely to be harmed by another person's gambling problem, particularly partners (current and ex) and family members. This harm was most strongly associated with high levels of distress and negative emotions, impacting the CSO's ability to function properly at work or perform other responsibilities.
Discussion and Conclusions
Support and treatment services for CSOs should consider addressing the psychological distress and negative emotions commonly experienced by CSOs.
It is well understood that engagement with some forms of gambling, like EGMs, is riskier than other forms. However, while reports of associations are common, few studies have attempted to evaluate and compare the relative risk of all available forms, and none have estimated the relative contribution of each form to the total burden of gambling problems (GP) in a population.
Using an aggregated dataset of national and state-based prevalence studies in Australia (N = 71,103), we estimated prevalence and unique effects of frequency of engagement on each form on GP. Two alternative numerical methods were then applied to infer the relative contribution of each form to the total amount of GP.
EGMs are responsible for 51%–57% of gambling problems in Australia, and 90% of gambling problems are attributable to EGMs, casino, race, and sports betting. Casino table games and EGMs are equally risky at the individual level, but the former contribute far less to problems due to low participation. Bingo and lottery play show no statistically detectable risk for GP.
Discussion and conclusion
The results illustrate which forms present the greatest population burden and illuminate the reasons why. EGMs have an outsized impact. EGM uniquely combines high risk conditional on play, with a high participation rate and a high frequency of play among participants. This is in contrast to risky but less commonly played casino games, and prevalent but non-risky forms like lotteries. We conclude that EGM regulation should be a primary focus of policy action in Australia. More innovative policy ideas relating to EGMs should be tested due to the disproportionate impact of this product type.
Smartphones extend the situational characteristics of sports betting beyond those available with land-based and computer platforms. This study examined 1) the role of situational features and betting platforms in harmful betting behaviours and short-term betting harm, and 2) whether people with more gambling problems have preferred situational features, engage more in harmful betting behaviours, and experience more severe short-term betting harm.
An ecological momentary assessment analysed 1,378 betting sessions on sports, esports or daily fantasy sports, reported by 267 respondents (18–29 years; 50.9% male) over 10 weeks.
Factor analysis revealed five situational features of betting sessions: 1) quick, easy access from home, 2) ability to bet anywhere anytime, 3) privacy while betting, 4) greater access to promotions and betting options, and 5) ability to use electronic financial transactions. Regression models underpinned the analyses. Greater short-term betting harm was significantly associated with the ability to bet anywhere anytime, privacy when betting, and greater access to promotions and betting options. Betting sessions when these features were prioritised were more likely to involve impulsive betting, use of betting inducements, and betting with more operators. Respondents with more gambling problems were more likely to prioritise privacy and the ability to bet anywhere anytime; and to bet on in-game events, use promotional inducements, bet with more operators, and report greater betting harm.
Discussion and conclusions
Certain situational features of sports betting are empirically associated with engagement and subsequent harm. Only smartphone betting combines all three features associated with betting harm.
Gambling-related harm to concerned significant others (CSOs) is an important public health issue since it reduces CSOs' health and wellbeing in numerous life domains. This study aimed to 1) estimate the first national prevalence of CSOs harmed by gambling in Australia; 2) identify the characteristics of CSOs most at risk of harm from another person's gambling; 3) compare the types and number of harms experienced by CSOs based on their relationship to the person who gambles; and 4) compare the number of harms experienced by CSOs by self-identified gender.
Based on a national CATI survey weighted to population norms, 11,560 respondents reported whether they had been personally and negatively affected by another person's gambling in the past 12 months; and if so, answered detailed questions about the harms experienced from the person's gambling who had harmed them the most.
Past-year prevalence of gambling-related harm to adult Australian CSOs was (6.0%; 95% CI 5.6%–6.5%). CSOs most commonly reported emotional harms, followed by relationship, financial, health and vocational harms, respectively. Former partners reported the most harm, followed by current partners, other family members and non-family members, respectively. Female CSOs were more likely to report more harm and being harmed by a partner or other family member, and male CSOs from a non-family member.
Discussion and conclusions
The findings provide new insights into the wider societal burden of gambling and inform measures aimed at reducing harm to CSOs from gambling and supporting them to seek help.