Do you want to know what factors contributed to your gambling?
Anyone can be affected by gambling harm, regardless of their personality or background. The development of harmful gambling can’t be attributed to any one specific factor. For most people, a combination of multiple factors puts them at risk of gambling harm.
When you are trying to cut back or quit, it’s important to understand how your gambling developed. Identifying the factors that contribute to your gambling can help you find ways to minimise its negative effects on your life. When you recognise the underlying reasons behind your gambling, you can develop coping strategies and learn how to manage situations that trigger your gambling. By seeking appropriate support and using effective strategies, you can take meaningful steps towards regaining control over your gambling.
Do you want to know what factors contributed to your family members or friend’s gambling?
If someone you know, such as a family member or friend, is struggling with their gambling, it’s important to recognise that anyone can be affected by gambling harm, regardless of their personality or background. The development of harmful gambling can’t be attributed to any one specific factor. For most people, a combination of multiple factors puts them at risk of gambling harm.
When a family member or friend is trying to cut back or quit, it’s important to understand how their gambling developed. By identifying the factors that contribute to their gambling, you can help them find ways to minimise its negative effects on their life. Encouraging them to seek professional help, such as counselling, can also be helpful for them to develop coping strategies and learn how to manage situations that trigger their gambling.
By providing the right support and implementing strategies that work, your family member or friend can work towards regaining control over their gambling. Your encouragement and support can play a significant role in their recovery.
Do you want to know what factors contribute to harmful gambling?
As a professional supporting people struggling with harmful gambling, it’s important to be empathic and understanding. Harmful gambling can be complex and multi-faceted, so it’s essential to help them recognise that various factors can contribute to their gambling.
By collaborating with them, you can assist in identifying their triggers and develop coping strategies that can effectively manage their gambling. Encouraging them to seek professional help, such as counselling, can also be beneficial in providing them with the necessary tools and support to overcome their gambling difficulties. As a professional, you can offer resources and referrals to link them with suitable services and support networks.
By offering the right support and guidance, you can help them take meaningful steps towards regarding control over their gambling. By working with them, you can play a significant role in their recovery.
What are risk and protective factors?
Risk factors make people more vulnerable to experiencing gambling harm. But not everyone who has these risk factors will experience gambling harm. There are also factors that protect people from experiencing gambling harm. These are called protective factors.
What is the Conceptual Framework of Harmful Gambling?
The Conceptual Framework of Harmful Gambling is a model helps us understand the risk and protective factors for harmful gambling. This model divides these contributing factors into two categories: those that are directly related to gambling and those that are more general. See Gambling-Specific Contributing Factors for factors involving the gambling environment, exposure to gambling, types of gambling, and gambling resources.
What are general contributing factors?
The Conceptual Framework divides general contributing factors into cultural factors, social factors, psychological factors and biological factors.
What are cultural factors?
Cultural factors can affect how much people gamble, the popularity of different gambling types, attitudes towards gambling, how people gamble, and the extent of the harm they might experience. Some cultural factors include:
Views on gambling can range from gambling being a completely acceptable activity or a norm in some cultures, to inappropriate or shameful in others. In Australia, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities are less likely to gamble, but that those who do gamble are more likely to develop harmful gambling. There may be several reasons for this, including having roots in another culture, the stress of moving to another country, or trying to integrate into another society. See Gambling in Culturally Diverse Communities for more information
Gambling is affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. People in these communities suffer more harm from gambling and don’t ask for help as much as people from other communities.
See Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Gambling for more information.
Religion and spirituality can play a role in people’s attitudes towards gambling. Some religions may consider gambling as morally wrong and may therefore discourage people from gambling. People with these religious backgrounds may therefore feel ashamed or stigmatised about their gambling, which can further exacerbate harms from their gambling. On the other hand, the religious or spiritual beliefs of other people may provide them with comfort and hope, especially if they seek help from their religious or spiritual community or engage in spiritual practices. Overall, the impact of religion on harmful gambling can be complex and vary depending on a person’s beliefs and experiences.
Gambling cultures are subcultures that can develop within a gambling activity, such as sports betting or casino gambling. Players can form relationships and become part of each other’s social worlds. This can make it more difficult for people to reduce their involvement in gambling.
What are social factors?
Social factors shape how gambling is made available and how people develop difficulties with their gambling. Some social factors include:
Younger people are more likely to develop harmful gambling. Younger people may not fully understand the risks of gambling and are often targeted by gambling advertising. They are also digitally savvy and are easily influenced by family members and friends who gamble. See Gambling and Young People for more information about youth gambling. Men are also more likely to develop harmful gambling. While women tend to gamble as way to cope with stress and everyday life, often on games of chance like the pokies, men are more likely to participate in high-risk gambling for the excitement and to win money.
Family members can have a big impact on how we gamble, especially for teenagers and young adults. Sometimes parents let their children gamble, or even gamble with them. If parents have issues with gambling, using drugs or alcohol, or being violent, their children may also be more likely to develop harmful gambling. The way parents raise their children can also affect whether their children develop harmful gambling. Parents being inconsistent with consequences for behaviour can be a risk factor, while parents closely supervising their children can be a protective factor. Conflict or violence in the family is also linked to harmful gambling. On the other hand, families being close and having values that involve helping others can be protective.
Having friends who gamble, use drugs or alcohol, or engage in delinquent behaviour can influence a young person's own gambling. This is especially true for those who feel a sense of belonging to an online community.
Having people around us who care and support us, feeling connected to others, and being able to communicate and interact well with others are all helpful in reducing the chances of developing harms from gambling.
What are psychological factors?
A range of individual psychological factors can make people more vulnerable to developing issues with their gambling. Some psychological factors include:
Many people who experience gambling harm have mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Most people experience mental health issues before they develop a problem with their gambling – but they often reinforce one another. See Gambling and Mental Health Issues for more information.
People who experience gambling harm often also use substances, like alcohol or drugs, at high rates. Mixing alcohol and drugs with gambling can be a risky combination because it can make it harder to stay in control while gambling. See Gambling and Substance Use for more information.
Our brains are very complex and process a lot of information quickly. However, sometimes our brains take shortcuts, called heuristics, to simplify things and make decisions faster. When we’re gambling, these mental shortcuts can lead us to make errors in judgement and to draw inaccurate or unhelpful conclusions. For example, people often continue gambling in an attempt to win back previous losses or believe that previous losses increase the chances of a win in the future. They can also overestimate their chances of winning or the influence of their skill and selectively remember their wins and forget their losses. These beliefs often cause them to end up gambling more than they had planned to. See our self-help information on Changing Thoughts and Beliefs for more information.
Traumatic experiences in childhood have been linked to harmful gambling. These experiences can include abuse, neglect, parental divorce and mental illness in the family. The more of these experiences a person goes through, the higher their chances of developing harmful gambling.
Violent behaviour, taking risks, and criminal activity have all been linked to harmful gambling. In young people, some risk factors include being rebellious, breaking rules, not doing well in school, and not caring much about their education.
Coping styles refer to how people generally deal with stress and challenges in life. People who rely on avoidant coping (trying to avoid the stress or challenge of a situation rather than dealing with it), and emotional coping (trying to reduce any emotional responses like fear or anxiety), are most at risk.
Personality refers to the unique ways in which people think, feel, and act that make them different from one another. Certain personality traits, such as being impulsive, seeking out intense experiences, being outgoing, and not conforming to rules or having self-control, are linked to a higher chance of developing harmful gambling.
Wellbeing refers to how a person perceives and experiences their own happiness and life satisfaction. People who have high wellbeing and quality of life are less likely to develop harmful gambling.
There are certain things that can make us more resilient, or better able to bounce back from difficult situations. Some of these factors include being able to understand and manage our emotions, believing in our own abilities to overcome challenges, and being able to stay focused and present in the current moment. These things can help protect us from being harmed by gambling.
What are biological factors?
Biological factors mean genetically inherited and/or biological tendencies toward harmful gambling. These might be genetics, differences in brain structure and function, and some chemicals in the brain. Some biological factors include:
If someone in our family has gambled at harmful levels, it’s more likely that we might gamble at harmful levels too. There is some evidence that harmful gambling is equally influenced by our genes (what we get from our family) and our environment (the things around us). Some specific genes that affect how our brain releases a chemical called dopamine, which is involved in controlling movement, feeling rewarded, and learning, may play a role in harmful gambling.
People who gamble at harmful levels can show changes in different parts of the brain that are responsible for things like feeling rewarded, controlling impulses, assessing risks, and making decisions. But we don’t know if these are causes or consequences of harmful gambling. People who experience gambling harm also tend to make impulsive choices, especially when they are feeling negative emotions, and sometimes make poor decisions. Certain chemicals in the brain, such dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline, also play a role in gambling. These chemicals are important for things like feeling pleasure, mood, and arousal.
Do you want more help?
To find out more about the factors that might contribute to your gambling, you can start an online chat with us or call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 – free, confidential, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
These services are available to support anyone affected by gambling harm, including family members or friends.
Do you want more help?
To find out more about the factors that might contribute to gambling, you or your family member or friend can start an online chat with us or call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 – free, confidential, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
These services are available to support anyone affected by gambling harm, including family members or friends like you. It’s not only the person who gambles that can be affected, but the people close to them too. It’s important to take care of yourself when you’re supporting someone else. Check out the family and friends section in our peer support community to connect with people who understand.
Do you want more help?
To find out more about the factors that might contribute to gambling, you or the person you’re working with can start an online chat with us or call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 – free, confidential, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
These services are available to support anyone affected by gambling harm, including family members, friends, and professionals like you. It can be hard for professionals to support people with gambling issues. To learn more about how you can help, go to our section on How Professionals Can Help.