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What Can be Done to Reduce the Public Stigma of Gambling Disorder? Lessons from Other Stigmatised Conditions

  • Kirsten L. Brown
  • Alex M. T. RussellEmail author
Review Paper

Abstract

Gambling is embedded in Australian cultural history, and perceived as a normal, legitimate leisure activity. Despite this normalisation, people who experience gambling problems are heavily stigmatised which can lead to a variety of harms that extend beyond the individual. The stigma from the general public appears to be based on a stereotype of a typical “problem gambler”—selfish, greedy, impulsive and irresponsible. However, research suggests that people experiencing gambling problems have widely varying characteristics and do not conform to this stereotype. Regardless of whether the stigma is justified, it is both present and problematic. Gamblers experiencing problems delay help-seeking due to feelings of shame and, not unwarranted, expectations of negative judgement because of the heavy stigma associated with the stereotype. As stigma is a primary barrier to treatment and a reason why gambling problems can take longer to acknowledge, it is important to understand and address how stigma can be reduced to minimise the negative consequences of gambling on individuals, their families and friends and the wider community. There is little research on reducing gambling-related stigma, so there is a need to examine strategies used in other stigmatised conditions, such as mental health, to understand the general principles of effective stigma reduction measures. Because gambling disorder is unique, well-hidden and consequently not well understood, there is a need to recognise that techniques used in other domains may differ in their effectiveness within the context of gambling stigma.

Keywords

Stigma Stigma reduction Gambling disorder Contact Education Advocacy 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was conducted as part of the requirements of an Honours degree by the first author. The last author was supervisor on this Project.

Funding

Alex Russell has received funding from Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation; NSW State Government; Queensland Justice and Attorney-General; Gambling Research Australia; National Association for Gambling Studies; Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Alberta Gambling Research Institute. He has received industry funding for an evaluation of problem gambling amongst casino employees from Echo/Star Entertainment Group. He is also affiliated with the University of Sydney.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants 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. Approval was gained from the CQUniversity Human Research Ethics Committee—Approval number 2018-082.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversityRockhamptonAustralia
  2. 2.Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCQUniversitySydneyAustralia

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