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The National Definition of Gambling and Harm

Gambling is an activity that involves wagering money or other stakes on events, such as sports games or lottery draws. It can be a fun diversion or a serious addiction.

Gamblers often have a number of cognitive and motivational biases that influence their preferences for gambling. These include the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of a winning result, and to underestimate the cost of losing a bet.

Problem gambling is a disorder that causes harm to a person’s health, relationships and finances. People with a problem often bet large amounts of money and lose control over their spending habits.

A national definition of harmful gambling and harm was developed in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand [1]. The term ‘harm’ was used to delineate the range of negative consequences that can arise from gambling, rather than a narrowly conceived or specific diagnosis.

Harm in gambling is defined as any initial or exacerbated adverse consequence that results from an engagement with gambling. This includes harm resulting from the behaviour itself, the gambling environment or the individual’s relationship with gambling.

Initially six different thematic classifications of harm were identified; financial harms, those harms that affected relationships, emotional or psychological harms, impacts on a person’s health, impacts on their work, study or economic activities and criminal acts.

Legacy harms were also identified, those harms that continue to occur even after a person has stopped engaging in gambling. These harms include impacts on a person’s family and friends, and the wider community.