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UC researchers to explore gambling harm awareness in the ACT

Elly Mackay

31 October 2022: Researchers from the University of Canberra will work to better understand community awareness and knowledge of gambling harms, as part of a project supported by the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission through its Gambling Harm Prevention and Mitigation Fund.

The results of the study will assist the ACT Government in the development of literacy materials and communication strategies relating to gambling awareness in the ACT.

The 2019 ACT Gambling Survey revealed that 60.1 per cent of Canberrans reported having gambled, however only 20.9 per cent had gambled online.

In 2022, that number is expected to have increased significantly. The survey is conducted every five years, so results will not be available until 2024.

Lead researcher on the project Senior Research Fellow Dr Kate Holland said that new and emerging forms of online gambling are attracting increased attention, but traditional and land-based forms of gambling continue to be popular, and both present challenges for regulators.

“For many people, gambling is an enjoyable recreational activity, but it can also have negative consequences,” Dr Holland said.

“We want to understand what community members know about gambling harms and what they think about harm prevention, education and communication efforts, in order to identify opportunities for improvement in these areas.

“Our research aims to provide an evidence base for future policy and practices aimed at reducing existing and emerging harm related to gambling in the ACT.”

Interviews and focus groups for the project will kick off this month, and continue into early 2023. Dr Holland said the research team is looking to recruit people who participate in, or who are aware of, a range of gambling activities from across a range of demographics.

The Understanding Gambling Harms research project is being conducted by a team from the News and Media Research Centre at the University, including Dr Holland, N&MRC Director Professor Kerry McCallum, Dr Kieran McGuiness and Dr Barbara Walsh.

The project aims to benefit the Canberra community by providing residents with the opportunity to inform the government about their own experiences and understanding of gambling, its impacts and harm prevention measures.

“The research will be conducted across several phases, using a mixed-method approach,” Dr Holland said.

“We have completed an environmental scan of existing research, an analysis of local news reporting and an overview of campaigns on gambling harm and prevention measures. We’re currently conducting a survey of ACT residents and seeking participants for interviews and focus groups.”

Results of the research will be delivered to the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission in late 2023.

If you would like to participate in an interview or focus group, please contact us here. For more information visit the News and Media Research Centre webpage.