Til Debt Do Us Part: Comparing Gambling Harms Between Gamblers and Their Spouses

  • Lisa Jeffrey
  • Matthew Browne
  • Vijay RawatEmail author
  • Erika Langham
  • En Li
  • Matthew Rockloff
Original Paper


This study compared the experience of gambling related harms between gamblers and spouses, whilst taking into account gender and problem gambling severity. Participants (N = 5036, 2603 females) from Australia and New Zealand completed a retrospective survey that probed the prevalence of specific harms from gambling within six harm domains (financial, work/study, health, emotional/psychological, relationship, and social deviance). Overall there was a similar count of total harms reported across all domains experienced by spouses (vs gamblers), however the types and patterns of harms reported were markedly different. Spouses reported the highest number of harms within the emotional/psychological and relationship domains, whereas gamblers experienced a higher number of harms in all other domains. Spouses were five to six times more likely to report increased conflict in their relationship due to gambling, greater relationship tension, and ending a relationship. In comparison, gamblers reported more severe health-related harms, such as suicide attempts and increased alcohol consumption. The findings highlight the unique ways in which gamblers and their spouses each respond to the presence of gambling problems.


Gambling harms Gamblers Gambling problems Concerned significant others Spouses Gender 



Funding was awarded from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and New Zealand Ministry of Health for the larger gambling harms studies from which the data was obtained for the current manuscript. No funding was received for the preparation of this manuscript or the findings here in.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Matthew Browne has received grants from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, the New Zealand Ministry of Health and Gambling Research Australia. Erika Langham has received grants from Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Gambling Research Australia, Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, Department of Human Services, New Zealand Ministry of Health, Queensland Education, Lowitja Institute, and Menzies School of Health. She has also received honorarium and had travel costs paid by Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Gambling Impact Society, Gamble Aware and the Gambling Research Exchange Ontario. Matthew Rockloff has received grants from the Queensland Treasury, the Victorian Treasury, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, the New Zealand Ministry of Health and Gambling Research Australia. En Li has received research grants from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and Gambling Research Australia. Lisa Jeffries and Vijay Rawat declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversityBundabergAustralia
  2. 2.School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversityCairnsAustralia
  4. 4.School of Business and LawCQUniversityRockhamptonAustralia

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