Internationally and in New Zealand, gambling research from an explicit women’s perspective is rare. Accordingly, gaps in our current understanding of how women are affected by gambling, as both gamblers and as affected others, are likely to constrain harm prevention reduction efforts.
The World Health Organization (WHO) supports multiple layers of gender analysis in health research and policy, accounting for personal and community-level impacts of gender, and investigation of the interactions between sex and gender and their dual impact on health.
Using a mixed methods approach and informed by data collected through the National Gambling Study (NGS), this study enabled a multifaceted exploration of the context, issues and factors influencing women’s gambling related harm in New Zealand and suggests pathways for harm reduction.
The findings are informing the Ministry’s thinking about how gambling harm minimisation services could be refocussed and revitalised to better meet the needs of women harmed by gambling. The refocussing and revitalising of services to better meet client needs is an important component of the current gambling harm minimisation strategy.
The AUT Gambling and Addictions Research Centre undertook the study. The researchers found that:
- gender issues and ideology infuse gambling practices and experiences of harm
- women’s socio-cultural positioning as primary caregivers for families contributes to gambling harm by placing unrealistic expectations on women, while simultaneously constraining their ability to prioritise their own wellbeing and access rest, relaxation and support
- gambling venues in local communities appear to offer women respite, distraction, comfort, time-out and/or connection – while placing them at heightened risk of experiencing problems and harm
- promising avenues for addressing gambling harm for women in New Zealand include reducing electronic gaming machines (i.e., pokies) gambling opportunities in community settings, promoting gender equality and women’s community connectedness in gambling harm prevention and reduction activities, and explicit and ongoing commitment to gender-aware gambling harm reduction research, policy and practice.