The convergence of gambling and gaming

27 July 2015

SallyGainsbury2014 webHaving represented the Australian Psychological Society at Science Meets Parliament earlier this year, and with her latest research on the convergence of gambling and gaming due to be released, Dr Sally Gainsbury is scaling the heights of professional success.

The Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University, and 2007 Menzies Allied Health Sciences Research Scholar, is doing some great work and receiving her just rewards, including the Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor's Award for Research Excellence earlier this year.

But it is over the coming months you can expect to hear and see her name a lot more as her team releases the findings from the most comprehensive study yet examining the convergence between gambling and gaming and the impact on vulnerable populations.

Sally has been working as the Chief Investigator for Gambling Research Australia and the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to consider how gambling and gaming operators are promoting products via social media, the uptake and migration between gambling and gaming, and whether gambling-games are increasing gambling problems, including for young people.

“Several preliminary studies have been published which show that gambling operators are using social media to promote their products, often with few responsible gambling messages,” Sally said.

“Interviews with game players suggests that for some, these do act as a trigger to gamble, although some problem gamblers use the games as a way to try and avoid gambling. The increasing similarities between games and gambling have led many regulators, including Australian policy makers, to consider whether these games should be restricted in some way.

“There does appear to be an association between playing gambling-themed games and engaging in gambling and experiencing problems for adults and youth. Our research aims to assist policy makers and other stakeholders to respond to the rapid changes in technology and develop strategies to protect vulnerable populations.”

The Productivity Commission’s extensive report into gambling in 2010 found the social cost of problem gambling was at least $4.7 billion a year with about 115,000 Australians classified as ‘problem gamblers’ with a further 280,000 people at 'moderate risk'.

This latest research is likely to attract a lot of attention.

Sally completed a PhD and Doctorate of Clinical Psychology at the University of Sydney in 2010, for which she was awarded a Menzies Allied Health Research Scholarship. A further Allied Health Sciences Grant in 2010 from the Menzies Foundation allowed her to conduct research examining the use of Internet gambling in Australia and the impact of this new technology on gambling problems.

Dr Gainsbury’s report for Gambling Research Australia is due for release shortly. The report is called 'The use of social media in gambling' and will be on the Gambling Research Australia website (http://www.gamblingresearch.org.au/)