Gambling Taxonomy – What Are the Harms Associated With Gambling?


Gambling is a form of entertainment that involves placing a value on an event that is dependent on chance. This includes betting on sports events, the outcome of a lottery or scratchcard draw, and more. The activity can be a lot of fun, but it is important to understand the risks involved in gambling before getting started.

Problem gambling can impact a person’s physical and mental health, relationships, performance at work or study and finances. It can also lead to legal issues, debt and even homelessness. The good news is that help is available for anyone who needs it.

The word ‘gamble’ comes from the Latin gamba, meaning to risk or wager. The earliest evidence of gambling dates back to 2,300 B.C when tiles were discovered that appeared to be part of a rudimentary game of chance. Since then, many forms of gambling have been developed and some have been outlawed by governments.

People who have a mental health issue are at greater risk of gambling problems. If you are experiencing mental distress or feel like suicide, call 999 or go to A&E immediately. People who are struggling with debt are also at high risk of gambling problems. If you need help with your finances, speak to StepChange for free debt advice.

Research shows that gambling is most likely to happen as a reaction to a negative event or situation. This could be feeling depressed, feeling angry or upset, or having financial problems. It can also happen because of a desire to escape from negative feelings or situations.

Researchers have been exploring ways to reduce the harms associated with gambling. One approach has been to change the way it is viewed, focusing on outcomes rather than behaviours or symptoms. This has led to the development of a new definition of harm that is grounded in a public health approach, which will allow for more rigorous measurement and evaluation.

This framework includes a taxonomy of harms and a set of criteria that will help to identify specific areas of harm for future action. The taxonomy was developed through a series of focus groups and interviews with people who gamble and affected others.

Initially, six different thematic classifications of harm were identified. These included financial harms, those affecting relationships, emotional or psychological harms, impacts on work and study, and criminal acts. Further analysis of the data relating to people with strong religious beliefs, CALD communities and indigenous populations has led to the identification of a seventh classification of harm, which is cultural in nature.

It is important to note that the new definition does not exclude gambling activities that are not considered harmful in and of themselves, such as a bet placed on an upcoming football match. It does, however, include any activity that has a significant negative impact on a person’s life. This is a significant difference to existing pathogenic approaches, which have excluded a wide range of activities that can cause harm.