Exploring the limits of ‘responsible gambling’: Harm minimisation or consumer protection?

Abstract

In the context of the rapidly developing international interest in responsible gambling the paper presents a brief description of the different definitions of problem gambling and their related methods of measurement: problem gambling defined as a mental disorder, as a harmful impact and as an addictive behaviour. For each of the conceptual approaches the question was posed, "How can problem gambling (gamblers) be identified from behaviour patterns on the gaming room floor?" It was concluded that although all approaches may enable an observer to refine probability statements about whether A or B is a problem gambler none permit the sure identification of such a person. Current psychological research does not support the responsible gambling objective of excluding the problem gambler from gambling venues but does have significant implications for consumer protection. The argument presented is that loss of control over expenditure of time and money during a session of play/betting is a common and 'natural' experience for regular players. This sense of loss of control is likely to be an integral part of the pleasurable experience of gambling. It was concluded that the manner in which continuous gambling products are provided to regular gamblers is in direct conflict with responsible gaming strategies, may fail to satisfy the principle of duty of care and may be an issue best resolved in terms of consumer protection.

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