Harm prevention and reduction efforts in gambling disorder: an international perspective

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This chapter argues that the gambling industry-friendly concepts of “responsible gambling” and the “problem gambler” have largely forestalled implementation of effective gambling harm prevention. “Responsible gambling” has been hugely successful in deflecting attention away from harmful gambling products, irresponsible operators and dangerous gambling environments, thus avoiding substantial reductions in gambling revenues. The notion of the “problem gambler” individualises, shames and silences those affected by gambling harm. These concepts, and the discourse they articulate, have led to a concentration of research in specific disciplines largely focused on individual problems, a poor quality evidence base for effective harm prevention and concomitant misdirection of research priorities. Recently, public health principles have been applied more rigorously to the concept of gambling harm, improving understanding of its nature and characteristics. Further, new analytical methods for understanding the aetiology of this harm and new responses to its widespread impacts have been developed. These involve application of a broad range of social science perspectives and evidence from multiple disciplines and existing public health fields, such as tobacco control and motor vehicle injury reduction. Effective gambling harm prevention and minimisation is achievable, and the social and economic costs it imposes can be avoided, by moving beyond “responsible gambling”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHarm Reduction for Gambling
Subtitle of host publicationA Public Health Perspective
EditorsHenrietta Bowden-Jones, Cheryl Dickson, Caroline Dunand, Olivier Simon
Place of PublicationLondon UK
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780429490750
ISBN (Print)9781138590953
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2019


  • Gambling
  • Public health
  • Harm minimization

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