Breaks in Play

Empowering Gamblers through In-Game Harm Minimization Features for Electronic Gaming Machines

(Sally M. Gainsbury und Alex Blaszczynski) Gambling is a multi-billion dollar world-wide industry, with consumer spending on gambling (amounts wagered less payout) predicted to reach US$511 billion by 2019.1 Approximately 65–90 percent of adults worldwide report gambling at some level on some form each year, with the majority doing so recreationally and in the absence of any significant negative consequences. However, current epidemiological research estimates that between one percent and five percent of adults in the general population meet criteria for a gambling disorder or experience gambling-related problems. Problem gambling is characterised by excessive money and/or time spent gambl­ing such that adverse consequences including significant distress or life disruption for the gambler, others, or for the community emerge. Problem gambling is associated with significant costs to individuals and families as well as society, including mental and physical health problems, family breakdown, lost productivity, legal problems, crime, bankruptcy and suicide. From a public health perspective, problem gambling represents (and is predicted to remain) a substantial health and social burden on the community. The Australian Productivity Commission2 (2010) estimated that the cost of problem gambling to the community was AUD$4.7 bil-lion leading to their conclusion that policy measures with even modest effectiveness in reducing harm will often be worthwhile.

Recognizing the potential for harm, governments and gambling operators have a responsibility to implement public health oriented harm-minimisation measures designed to minimize excessive gambling behaviour and its negative outcomes across all strata of the general population. In global terms, harm-minimisation strategies aim to minimise the risks associated with gambl­ing and facilitate responsible gambling, with­out overtly disturbing those who gamble in a non-problematic manner. Responsible gambling can be considered as including policies and strategies that are designed to assist individuals restrict their gambling expenditure to remain within personally aff­ordable limits. Within this framework, the objective is to implement regulatory require­ments directed towards ensuring that the configuration of gambling products do not include features that might induce or foster excessive expenditure. In addition, that sufficient, relevant and timely information on which gamblers can make informed choices relating to their level of participation is provided. Harms associated with gambling are directly related to levels of consumption, either on one or multiple forms. In this context, it is argued that individuals must be edu-cated to recognise and set their own limits and to assume some degree of responsibly for their behaviours. Simul-taneously, operators and government must acknowledge their central role in offering products and information that are consistent with consumer protection standards. Strategies that aim to motivate users to lower their gam-bling participation are referred to as demand reduction strategies. Conversely, supply reduction focuses on reduc-ing the availability, or limiting the extent, of gambling.

Dieser Text erschien in voller Länger in der Fachzeitschrift „Beiträge zum Glücksspielwesen“ Ausgabe 4/2016. Diese kann hier im Jahresabo oder einzeln bestellt werden.

Sally M. Gainsbury ist stellvertretende Direktorin der Gambling Treatment Clinic & Research Group an der Univer-sität Sydney und Chefredakteurin der Fachzeitschrift „International Gambling Studies.

Professor Alex Blaszczynski ist Inhaber des Lehrstuhls für Psychologie an der University of Sydney. Zu seinen For-schungsschwerpunkten gehören u.a. das pathologische Spiel und Impulskontrollverhalten.