The Gambling Harms Framework


Gambling is any wagering activity that involves a stake of something valuable on an event determined by chance. It includes a range of activities, including betting on sports events, lotteries, and games of chance or skill such as bingo.

It can be a socially constructed experience, reflecting the complex interaction of broader social and environmental factors. There is a wide range of gambling related harms that can be experienced by people who engage in this behaviour and those who are affected by it, both at the point of engagement with gambling and over time as a result of engagement.

The Gambling Harms Framework describes three categories of harm associated with gambling: firstly, current harms; secondly, legacy harms; and thirdly, intergenerational harms. These categories were chosen because of the breadth and depth of experiences of harm that can be experienced by people who engage in gambling and those who are affected by it, at all levels of engagement with gambling.

Current harms

The current harms that are most frequently reported by those who gamble are the consequences of the behaviour itself and their subsequent impact on health. This includes the direct and indirect harms associated with gambling, such as loss of control, financial loss, stress, and distorted cognitions.

These can be exacerbated by comorbidities, such as alcohol abuse or depression. In addition, underlying mood disorders can also worsen or trigger problem gambling.

A person who is struggling with an underlying mood disorder should seek help as soon as possible. Similarly, people who have a history of substance abuse should be encouraged to speak with their doctor about gambling.

This will allow them to develop a treatment plan that includes therapy and support, to reduce their risk of developing problems with gambling. It will also help them to regain control over their lives and prevent further harm from occurring.

Moreover, it can improve the likelihood that they will recover from their problems. These therapies will help to reduce their feelings of anxiety and depression, which can be a significant contributing factor to gambling.

In addition, these will also help to manage the negative impacts of gambling on their relationships and finances. These treatments can include family therapy and marriage counseling, career counselling, and credit counseling.

Cultural harms

The effects of gambling on a person’s culture can be significant, affecting their ability to meet their cultural expectations. Consequently, this can lead to a sense of dissonance and an experience of loss of identity. It can also lead to feelings of social isolation due to reduced connection with their cultural community.

Other harms that may be associated with gambling are the biological manifestation of emotional and psychological distress, such as high blood pressure and insomnia. These impacts can be overlooked or underestimated by current health measures, and are often experienced by both the person who gambles and those they affect.

The definition of harms is a significant step forward in reducing stigma and improving the identification and assessment of gambling related harm. It is important that all sectors involved in the gambling industry and those who work with people who are affected by gambling can understand and acknowledge the harms that they cause, so that they can respond effectively to them.