Skip to main content
Slot machines

Gambling harm minimisation

Reducing the impact of problem gambling harms in the community

We collaborate with communities, industry partners, government, community groups and treatment providers to apply our research in the real world, through policy and practice.

About our research

Community engagement and impact

Our world-leading research aims to use knowledge gained from the nexus with clinical expertise to lead to new, more effective prevention, harm minimisation and treatment approaches. We share our research broadly to ensure it contributes to policy and practice including how governments think about and regulate gambling, how industry implements sustainable harm-minimisation practices and to assist relevant stakeholders in understanding and developing strategies to reduce gambling-related harm. We prioritise research which has strong implications to impact policy and practice in a meaningful way. Our research team actively engage with stakeholders throughout all stages of our research including community members, gambling consumers, and individuals with lived experience of gambling harms.

Our research is fully integrated with our Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic, where we provide real help to more than 550 people with gambling problems each year. This community cohort allows us to trial new, state-of-the-art treatments and prevention strategies to the people who need them most including preventing harms before they become severe. We can test the efficacy of new interventions with a relevant population. This integration means we can roll out the best new strategies to the broader community as quickly as possible. 

Our undergraduate and postgraduate research program provides unique opportunities for research students to gain real-world experience as they study. At the same time, our research and clinical insights are quickly transferred to graduates who can go on to practise in a wide variety of settings outside the University of Sydney.

Research Priorities

Our team research priorities include:

Gambling Treatment & Research Clinic Internship

Thank you for your interest in undertaking a research internship within the Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic (GTRC) within the School of Psychology and Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney.

The purpose of our internship program is to provide highly motivated and talented students the opportunity to gain advanced research experience and supervision to enhance their research skills and knowledge. It is intended that interns make a positive contribution during their time at the GTRC and ideally generate a research output.

We are looking for motivated and enthusiastic individuals who have some relevant research or related experience. These attributes ensure that interns are able to make meaningful contributions to research projects while working in a collaborative environment both under supervision and independently.

To assess your readiness to work on the relevant projects and your suitability for this role, we have developed a task that we would like you to complete after we receive your initial application. Following this task, we may invite you to participate in an interview via Zoom or in-person.

  • At least 2 years of completed psychology training at a tertiary institution
  • At least two days per week for a semester (four months), OR full-time availability for a minimum of two months
  • Ability to be on campus at the University of Sydney for the duration of the internship

To submit an initial application, please send the following to Sally Gainsbury:

  • Cover letter indicating: a) your previous research experience; b) your motivation in seeking an internship with the GTRC, including what you hope to gain from the experience; c) the type of contributions you think you can make to the GTRC during the internship, and d) the dates that you hope to start and finish the internship and your availability during this timeframe.
  • CV/resume, which includes your research abilities (e.g., the types of analyses and methodologies in which you are proficient).

Please note that no support is available for VISA applications and no funding or financial support is provided for these positions.

Our current projects

The GTRC is building upon existing relationships with Aboriginal services to collaborate with elders as peer-support workers to co-deliver services and provide ongoing support throughout the referral and treatment process. This increases community understanding of gambling-related issues, promotes engagement in therapy among attendees and builds the peer-support worker’s knowledge of therapeutic process, enhancing their capacity to discuss this within their community and enhance referrals. 

Call 1800 482 482 to find out more and get involved.

We have developed the Gambling Effect Measure (GEM) that assesses the full depth and breadth of gambling-related harms and consequences. We are validating the measure in both clinical and community settings.

Funding: NSW Office of Responsible Gambling

Researchers: Dr. Christopher Hunt, Kirsten Shannon, Dr. Fadi Anjoul, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, Professor Sally Gainsbury


  • Mapping the proportional distribution of gambling-related harms in a clinical and community sample. International Gambling studies
  • Aboriginal gambling and problem gambling: A review. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction

As digital payments increase in popularity this research seeks to understand how cashless gambling environments, including venues, impact customer spend. Cashless payments may increase gambling spend through a lack of awareness and salience,, however, digital payments provide the ability to track and be notified of spend, set limits, and take breaks which may be impactful harm-minimisation tools. We are working with various stakeholders to explore the impact of cashless gambling on harms.

Tom Swanton's PhD project investigates the impact of payment method on gambling and explores how we can help people to make smart choices about their gambling expenditure in the age of digital payments. 

Financial institutions have strong digital capabilities and a unique opportunity to play a pivotal role in reducing harm to customers and communities from risky gambling behaviour. This research aims to understand which types of bank-initiated interventions are likely to reduce harmful gambling behaviours and enhance wellbeing. 

Researchers: Professor Sally Gainsbury, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, Thomas Swanton (PHD Candidate), Professor Robert Slonim, Professor Ellen Garbarino, Professor Sharon Collard (Bristol University)

Funding:  NSW Office of Responsible Gambling  (Swanton PhD Scholarship)


Consumer protection tools include the ability to set limits on gambling expenditure, player activity statements that summarise recent gambling activity, and time-outs which enable gamblers to temporarily block access to their gambling accounts. These are intended to minimise gambling-related harms, by facilitating informed choice and gambling within affordable limits and are relevant for all customers of online gambling sites. This project aims to enhance the uptake and effect of consumer protection tools for online wagering customer and advance our understanding of online wagering behaviour including identification of risk indicators and the extent to which customers can accurately recall past behaviour and predict future behaviour. The research includes survey of online wagering customers, trials of various interventions including customised real-time messages triggered by behavioural risk indicators, and analysis of customer data. 

Researchers: Professor Sally Gainsbury, Professor Agnieszka Tymula, Professor Debora Cobb-Clark, Dr. Robert Heirene, (Charles Darwin universtiy), Professor Robert Breunig (Australian National University)

Funding: Sportsbet, Brain and Mind Centre, Life Course Centre (ARC CRE), Responsible Wagering Australia; in-kind support including access to de-identified betting data and ability to trial messages from RWA members; Sydney University Informatics Hub: data analysis support.


Venue Staff training in responsible gambling is a strategy adopted by many gaming providers to help prevent or reduce potential gambling-related harms. Research on existing venue staff training suggest methods in place do not assist in increasing staff members' ability to proactively interact with customers who show early warning signs of distress. Training increases staff members knowledge of what signs of problem gambling look like and their ability to identify customers who might be at risk.

The GTRC have developed the proactive RAAR Framework (Rapport, Approach & Assess, Assist, and Report) and have trialled and refined training programs for customer-facing staff and executives which aims to build relationships with all customers while accurately identifying risks. We are currently working with industry and government stakeholders to implement this training across venues.

Researchers: Emeritus Professor Alex Blaszczynski, Professor Sally Gainsbury, Dr. Dylan Pickering

Funding: NSW Office of Responsible Gambling, ClubsNSW


Various projects conducted to understand the impact of emerging technologies on risk-taking behaviour and behavioural addictions, including gambling and gaming disorder. PhD Candidate Seungyeon Kim is investigating the relationship between anxiety, problem gaming, and video games.
Researchers:  Professor Sally Gainsbury, Seungyeon Kim (PhD Candidate), Professor Vladan Starcevic, Associate Professor Daniel King (Flinders University)
Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award to Dr. Gainsbury

Recently completed projects

An empirical evaluation of a novel self-exclusion program that allows individuals with gambling problems to ban themselves from multiple gambling venues simultaneously. We collect data from self-exclusion users at regular intervals over a two-year period starting from when they first enter the program. This longitudinal study design allowed us to track participants' gambling behaviour and symptoms, and general wellbeing at different stages of self-exclusion.

In a related project, we developed and evaluated a website that enables individuals who are experiencing gambling harms to self-exclude from multiple gambling venues using a personal Internet device, and without needing to attend an in-person meeting with venue staff or a counsellor. Online self-enrolment is expected to enhance self-exclusion uptake and subsequently reduce gambling-related harms.

Researchers: Dr. Dylan Pickering, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, Professor Sally Gainsbury, Anastasia Serafimovska, and Sujeong Cho

Funding: ClubsNSW; NSW Office of Responsible Gambling 


In a collaborative project with scholars from Cambridge Health Alliance Division on Addiction at Harvard University and the University of Nevada Las Vegas we are exploring the uptake of open science (i.e., transparent research practices) within the field of gambling studies. The research includes a scoping review of the gambling literature to determine the extent to which open science practices such as pre-registration and data and code sharing have been adopted by gambling researchers to date. We further are evaluating the quality and specificity of pre-registrations of gambling research. From this, we hope to bring attention to value the pre-registering one’s studies, and to highlight the importance of doing this well if wanting to reduce concerns of bias (e.g., p-hacking, HARKing).

Researchers:  Professor Sally Gainsbury, Dr. Robert Heirene (Charles Darwin University), Dr. Brittany Keen, Professor Debi LaPlante (Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance), Dr. Eric Louderback (Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance), Professor Bo Bernhard (University of Nevada Las Vegas)

Funding: Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance


Measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) resulted in the mass closure of gambling venues and cancellation of major sporting events, leaving limited opportunities for gambling. COVID-19 left many Australians without jobs or with reduced incomes. Situations of economic hardship, social isolation, and increased psychological distress combined with the closure of gambling venues may have a significant impact on gambling and related problems in Australia. This study aimed to understand the impact of the shutdown on gambling in 2020 over time in the context of its financial and psychological effects.

Researchers: Professor Sally Gainsbury, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, Thomas Swanton, Dr Martin Burgess, Dr Nicola Black


Electronic gaming machines have been developed that incorporate elements of skill borrowed from video games within random chance mechanics of gaming machine. Not currently regulated to be provided in Australia, these are available in some U.S. jurisdictions and aim at attracting a new market, including younger players and consumers that enjoy playing video, mobile and online games. Research aimed to determine the impact of skill-based gambling machines (SGMs) on players including the extent to which players understand the role of skill vs. chance, which consumers might be interested in these, the impact on gambling-related cognitions and behaviours and the impact on gambling harms. Completed research studies include: 1) a survey of online U.S.-based participants; 2) a survey of participants from U.S. casinos who have played skill-based gambling machines; 3) experimental studies, focus groups, and cognitive interviews (talking aloud while playing) of Australians within a laboratory at USyd using SGMs and EGMs.

Researchers: Professor Sally Gainsbury, Dr. Kahlil Philander, Washington State University, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, Georgia Grattan

Funding: In-kind support for US casino research provided by GameCo. Funding for USyd trials received from Wymac Gaming Solutions. Permission to use EGMs for research provided by Liquor & Gaming NSW. Studies were pre-registered


Various projects conducted to understand the impact of emerging technologies on risk-taking behaviour and behavioural addictions, including gambling and gaming disorder. Previous stages of this work included investigating how use of various websites (e.g., offshore gambling sites) is related to taking risks and experiencing harms.

Researchers: Professor Sally Gainsbury, Emeritus Professor Alex Blaszczynski, Dr. Brett Abarbanel (University of Nevada Las Vegas)

Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award to Dr. Gainsbury


We completed a systematic review which determined that recovery from a gambling problem is conceptualised as a multifaceted process. Results from the systematic review, as well as interviews with individuals seeking treatment for gambling problems helped inform the development of the Recovery Index for Gambling Disorder (RIGD). This measure underwent empirical validation and can be used by clinicians and researchers to track an individual's recovery status over six key dimensions.

Researchers: Dr. Dylan Pickering

Publications: Please contact Dr. Pickering if you are interested in using the RIGD measure in your clinic or researcher centre.

This multi-phase project developed and evaluated a website enabling individuals to self-exclude from multiple gambling venues using a personal Internet device without needing to attend an in-person meeting with venue staff or a counsellor. The ease and convenience of web-based self-enrolment is expected to enhance self-exclusion uptake and subsequently reduce gambling-related harms. The study included 1) qualitative focus groups and interventions with gambling help counsellors, venue staff, government policy makers, and individuals with lived experience of gambling problems, and 2) evaluation of a pilot website.

Our findings support progressing web-based self-exclusion toward implementation, with ongoing performance monitoring and evaluation.

Researchers: Dr. Dylan Pickering, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, Ms. Anastasia Serafimovska, Ms. Sujeong Cho,  Professor Sally Gainsbury

Funding: NSW Office of Responsible Gambling



This extensive project involved the use of mixed methodologies to empirically evaluate a novel self-exclusion program that allows people experiencing gambling problems to ban themselves from multiple gambling venues simultaneously.

The studies conducted for this project included in-depth semi-structured interviews, online retrospective surveys, and prospective longitudinal online surveys, with both current and former self-exclusion clients.

The findings across studies were that multi-venue self-exclusion is associated with positive client outcomes in terms of reduced problem gambling symptoms and improved psychosocial functioning and quality of life.

We encourage the use of digital technologies to further improve the efficacy of the multi-venue self-exclusion system, in addition to the ongoing evaluation of client experiences and outcomes

Researchers: Dr. Dylan Pickering, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, Associate Professor Sally Gainsbury
Funding: ClubsNSW


Our team

Dr Lennard Martin

Dylan Pickering

Seungyeon Kim, Thomas Swanton