Harm reduction and gambling: Building the evidence for policy development

Harm reduction and gambling: Building the evidence for policy development

Anna Thomas

A free public seminar that examined the role of government in reducing harm in the gambling space.

Young gambler upset after losing

This event was held on Tuesday 24 February 2015.

A key role of government is to balance their duty to protect the community from harm with the need to provide freedom of choice. This seminar examined harm reduction in the gambling space. It considered the role of government and their capacity to provide protection by:

  • enhancing gambler self-responsibility through strengthening individual capacity for informed choice
  • reducing risk by moderating features of the gambling environment shown to be hazardous.

Evidence to support policy-making is both important and difficult to construct and, in the end, decisions are likely to be made with imperfect evidence. It is important, however, that evidence is built from multiple sources to assess likely effectiveness, costs and consequences from particular measures.

Dr. Thomas used two examples where research evidence is built to discuss this:

  • reducing access to cash in gambling venues through the removal of automated teller machines (ATMs)
  • using pre-commitment technology to encourage informed decision making in gamblers such as setting pre-determined time and/or money limits.

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