The aim of this project was to systematically investigate gambling-related harm in Victoria and assess the aggregate 'burden of harm' with reference to different levels of problem gambling, and other comparable conditions.
The project used a standard public health methodology endorsed by the World Health Organisation to measure the impact of gambling on quality of life.
The study found that low and moderate-risk gamblers account for a majority of the aggregate years of health life lost in Victoria. In total:
- 50.24 per cent of years lost to disability were from low-risk gamblers
- 34.52 per cent of years lost to disability were from moderate-risk gamblers
- 15.24 per cent of years lost to disability were from problem gamblers.
Harm to self accounted for 86.2 per cent of harm, while 13.8 per cent was harm to others.
When all risk categories are combined, gambling accounts for years lost to disability that equates to about two-thirds of the years lost to disability for alcohol use and dependence and major depression, and much more than many other conditions such as diabetes.
The qualitative data collection identified that harms could be divided into seven dimensions:
- financial harm
- relationship disruption, conflict or breakdown
- emotional or psychological distress
- decrements to health
- cultural harm
- reduced performance at work or study
- criminal activity.
Harms were divided into:
- general harms, which occurred at any time
- crisis harms, which were associated with attempts to seek help
- legacy harms, which occurred long after gambling ceased.
The researchers also identified that harms could occur much later in life, or even be transferred between generations. For example, parental poverty could impact on children throughout their lifespan.