Gambling Harm Minimisation Research Gap Analysis

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08 March 2021

Gambling harm minimisation research gap analysis

About the study

This report, by Flinders University, involved a rapid literature review methodology to investigate gaps across the following research domains:

  • gambling prevalence
  • attitudes and behaviours towards gambling in vulnerable or target groups
  • emerging technologies and new trends
  • long-term efficacy and effectiveness of treatments
  • what works in prevention and harm minimisation
  • understanding and measuring harm, and
  • support for policy development and regulatory effectiveness.

Existing research for each of the domains was summarised and the knowledge gaps, contradictory findings and areas for further research were identified. Quality ratings were conducted for sub-sections of the peer-reviewed research. A total of 541 documents were included in this review, consisting of 455 peer-reviewed articles and 86 grey literature reports.

Key findings

The literature identified in this review was predominantly descriptive with 39% (n=210) being cross-sectional research, with less of a focus on exploring efficacy or effectiveness. In the domains where quality ratings were conducted, the research generally met the criteria, although there was greater variation in quality in randomised controlled trials of treatment efficacy and in the area of prevention and harm minimisation.

The gap analysis identified that whilst there is breadth of focus in the gambling literature across research domains, there exists multiple gaps, as well as a lack of research depth, within each domain. A comprehensive research program incorporating study designs that build on each other sequentially to explore effectiveness is suggested.

Identified gaps and areas for future research included:

  • understanding and addressing the attitudes, behaviours, adverse consequences and needs of:
    • low to moderate risk gamblers
    • at-risk groups, particularly young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and CALD populations, and those with mental health problems.
    • family, significant others, and the wider community
  • the need to further explore the following new technologies and emerging trends:
    • online gambling
    • EGM characteristics, broadening the focus from individual characteristics to how various characteristics interact
    • the possible effects of industry inducements on gambling-related harm (including loyalty programs and the wider venue environment)
    • simulated gambling, and exploring the migration pathway from simulated gambling to gambling for money
    • sports betting – rates of involvement and associated risk
    • the role of advertising, particularly regarding sports betting and advertising on simulated and online gambling platforms
  • the need for a comprehensive understanding of gambling-related harm and the ability to measure harm across low-risk to moderate-risk gamblers through to problem gamblers, and extending out from the individual gamblers to significant others and the broader community.


Suggested citation

Lawn S, Oster C, Riley B, Baigent M and Smith D (2019) Responsible gambling and gambling harm minimisation research gap analysis: rapid review of literature final report, Flinders University, Adelaide. Commissioned by the NSW Office of Responsible Gambling.

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