Understanding the business versus care paradox in gambling venues: a qualitative study of the perspectives from gamblers, venue staff and counsellors

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Background: In recent years, greater emphasis has been placed on gambling venues to identify potential problem gamblers, respond appropriately and refer to treatment. In seeking the perspectives of problem gamblers, venue staff and treatment providers, this qualitative study investigates how problem gamblers experience being identified and referred for treatment by venue staff. Methods: A semi-structured interview guide focusing on experiences and perceptions of problem gambling identification and referral for treatment in gaming venues was used to conduct 4 focus groups and 9 semi-structured in-depth interviews. Participants comprised 22 problem gamblers, 10 gambling venue staff and 8 problem gambling counsellors. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim, and an interpretive phenomenological analysis was conducted. Results: 'Role conflict' was identified as a considerable source of stress for venue staff who described conflicting priorities in responding to problem gamblers whilst maintaining employer profit margins. Problem gamblers described offers of help from venue staff as hypocritical and disingenuous. Venue staff also described reluctance to make moral judgements through the identification of and engagement with problem gamblers, and gamblers described resentment in being singled out and targeted as a problem gambler. Being approached and offered referral to a counselling service was a rare occurrence among problem gamblers. This corresponded with reports by gambling counsellors. Conclusions: Role conflict experienced by gambling venue staff and patrons alike inhibits effective referral of potential problem gamblers into treatment. Reducing the need for gambling venue staff to make a perceived moral judgement about the gambling behaviours of specific patrons may improve the reception of responsible gambling information and promote help-seeking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number49
Number of pages14
JournalHarm Reduction Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sep 2018


  • Identification
  • Problem gambling
  • Qualitative
  • Role conflict
  • Venue staff


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