Positive play and its relationship with gambling harms and benefits

Paul Delfabbro, Daniel L. King, Neophytos Georgiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Engagement in responsible or 'positive play' strategies is known to be negatively associated with problem gambling, as indexed by measures such as the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). Less is known about whether positive play is associated with reduced harm or a greater ability to enjoy the recreational benefits of gambling. Aims: This study investigated the relationship between positive play and gambling harm after controlling for PGSI scores and whether positive play moderated the relationship between PGSI scores and harm. It also examined whether positive play was related to perceived benefits associated with gambling. Methods: The study utilised an online panel sample of 554 respondents who completed a survey that included the PGSI, measures of gambling harm drawn from Browne et al. (2016), and the newly developed Positive Play Scale (Wood et al., 2019). The study involved predominantly monthly gamblers with higher levels of gambling risk: 23% problem gamblers; 36% moderate risk; and 21% low risk gamblers. Results: The results indicated that positive play was negatively associated with reduced gambling harm. The behavioural Positive Play subscales relating to pre-commitment and honesty and control explained additional variation in harm after controlling for PGSI scores. Higher levels of positive play also moderated and reduced the relationship between the PGSI and gambling harm. Perceived benefits were, unexpectedly, found to be higher in problem gamblers and negatively related to positive play. Conclusion: Behavioural measures of positive play appear to be useful moderating factors in understanding the relationship between problem gambling and harm. Higher-risk gamblers appear to experience both greater costs as well as benefits from gambling, which likely reflects a stronger personal need to engage in the activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-370
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • problem gambling
  • gambling harm
  • Problem Gambling Severity Index
  • PGSI


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