Identifying problem gamblers in gambling venues


AIM: To summarise and review existing material relating to the identification of problem gamblers within venues, and (b) To conduct empirical research into the nature of possible visible indicators within venues. METHOD: The literature review examines current industry provisions and staff training in Australia; existing problem gambling theories of behaviours or cues likely to be visible to venue staff; and relevant crimogenic and sociological research. The empirical surveys and consults with industry staff and problem gambling counsellors, as well as regular gamblers, and observational work is conducted within venues. RESULTS: The industry has a duty of care as part of a wider public health approach, but current implementations have significant limitations. Staff training programs vary and content is mainly governed by the regulatory environment. Identification of problem gamblers does not feature widely. Only two major empirical studies investigate the prevalence of visible indicators of problem gambling, identifying social behaviours, fund raising, emotional signs and signs of excessive involvement as indicators. Most surveyed staff felt confident to be able to identify problem gamblers. The most significant barrier to identification is training relating to direct involvement with gamblers. Counsellors and staff were both familiar with many of the signs identified. The observational study showed that all of the visible indicators were significantly more likely to be reported by problem gamblers. CONCLUSION: The identification of problem gamblers within venues is theoretically possible, and there are a number of visible indicators that can be used to differentiate problem players in situ from others who gamble. Despite this, several important barriers remain, including those related to the nature of existing staff routines and responsible gambling training.

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