Behavioural indicators of responsible gambling consumption

Abstract

‘Responsible gambling’ is an ambiguous and contested concept that nonetheless underpins the vast majority of government, industry and public health efforts to minimise the harm from gambling. Following an earlier emphasis on responsible provision of gambling (RPG) which focused on providing gambling products, environments and policies that promote safe gambling behaviour, responsible consumption of gambling (RCG) now emphasises the need for consumers to regulate and restrain their own behaviours. This shift in emphasis has attracted substantial criticism for its location of the ‘problem’ within individual gamblers, for being stigmatising and unhelpful for people experiencing gambling problems, and for ignoring responsibilities of governments and gambling operators to provide and promote gambling in ways that prevent or minimise harm.

The current study is not driven by a particular stance on this issue, nor does it promote a particular viewpoint. Its focus on RCG should not be interpreted as endorsing the idea that consumers carry most responsibility for responsible gambling (RG). Instead, the study takes a pragmatic approach in recognising that RCG is now the dominant paradigm driving harm minimisation efforts in Australia and elsewhere. Gamblers are urged to ‘gamble responsibly’, but no accepted definition, foundation principles or behavioural indicators of RCG exist.

The aim of this study, therefore, was to develop a preliminary set of behavioural indicators of RCG – that is, the first set of commonly understood behavioural markers associated with gambling responsibly. It must be stressed that the behavioural indicators developed in this study are preliminary, and will require validation in subsequent research. We also emphasise that, while developing and promoting a validated set of behavioural indicators of RCG can provide much- needed consumer guidelines on how to ‘gamble responsibly’, this represents just one type of strategy for behavioural change. The public health literature promotes the use of a broad range of strategies to optimise behavioural change, such as regulation, policy, law, reducing availability, price controls, and restrictions on marketing; these broader strategies are not considered further in this report.

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