Developing a Definition of Harm


Gambling can be a fun way to spend your time, but it can also have serious consequences. Having a gambling problem can make it hard for you to control your spending and can lead to financial problems and poor health. It is important to get help if you have a gambling problem, and you should never gamble alone.

The word ‘gambling’ can mean many different things, but generally it refers to any activity that involves risk or the potential to win money. It can include playing cards, sports, lottery tickets or other games of chance.

It can also be a way of dealing with difficult emotions. For example, you may gamble if you are feeling lonely or bored or after a stressful day at work. If you are struggling with a bad mood or are having an argument with your spouse, gambling may be a way to self-soothe these feelings and unwind. But it is important to understand that there are better ways to deal with unpleasant emotions, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

People who have a gambling problem often do so without realising they are doing it. They may start out with small amounts of money, but over time they can spend large sums. If you think someone you know might be a problem gambler, talk to them about it and help them find a support network.

A loved one’s gambling habits can be a distressing and confusing experience. But it is not impossible to help your loved one overcome their problem and find a healthy way to cope with their emotions. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about the risks and dangers of gambling and encourage your loved one to find a support network.

Developing a Definition of Harm

There is an ongoing need for a consistent definition of harms associated with gambling. This is particularly significant given the complex nature of gambling and the multi-disciplinary interest in the phenomenon. The term ‘harm’ is intuitive, however it is highly subjective and socially constructed. Consequently, it can be difficult to identify harms arising from gambling that are not symptomatic of an addiction and that may be experienced at any point in time. The proposed framework and definition seeks to address this, by broadening the range of harmful experiences from gambling beyond those at a diagnostic stage of problem gambling or whilst engaging in gambling.

The proposed framework and definition are based on the existing gambling-related harm literature, with consultation with experts and community sources as well as the development of an extensive research agenda across several domains including health care, social policy and research in relation to gambling. This has led to a taxonomy that defines a range of harms, from the first experience with gambling through to legacy and intergenerational harms.

The proposed framework and definition are a step forward in improving our understanding of the harms associated with gambling and how they might be addressed. It is based on a public health approach and a social model of health, and it recognises the complexity of factors that drive this phenomenon. Ultimately, it is designed to provide a useful tool for researchers, treatment providers and those involved in developing public policy related to gambling.