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Australians spend more money per person gambling than people from any other country, around twice the average per capita expenditure of Western countries. Around 1% of adults in most Western countries experience disordered gambling causing harms to themselves and others; a further 4% experience serious sub-clinical gambling problems; and, on average, every problem gambler adversely affects the lives of another 6 people. The estimated societal and economic impact of gambling in Australia is $4.7 billion per annum. Classified as a behavioural addiction in DSM-5, ‘gambling disorder’ is comparable to substance-use disorders in terms of aetiology, biology, comorbidity, and treatment. Common harms include psychological distress, poor physical health, lack of sleep, stress, financial distress, relationship breakdown.

Cash is increasingly being replaced by the use of digital payments including tap-and-go, e-wallets, and mobile technologies. Cash is still largely required for venue-based gambling due to concerns that digital payments will increase the propensity for people to spend more than is affordable. However, industry and regulators are increasingly mindful of the anti-money laundering benefits of digital payment systems and the need to ensure gambling is relevant to a broad consumer group, many of whom no longer routinely carry cash. Further, digital payments may offer unique opportunities to minimise gambling harms.

Financial institutions are increasingly aware of their responsibility to contribute to efforts to reduce gambling problems. Personal accounts and credit cards provide a high level of insight into gambling spend in relation to affordability and financial well-being. Given the limitations of operator-based limits and exclusion programs, interventions to limit and block spending at the card/account level could be more effective in reducing gambling harms. Proactive identification of gambling problems using spend data could assist in the prevention of gambling harms.

These industry developments present important research questions to gather evidence to inform policy and practice at an industry and regulatory level.


Professor Sally Gainsbury.

Research location

School of Psychology

Program type




1. How do digital payment mechanisms, including credit cards, e-wallets, and gambling-specific wallets, impact gambling in online and land-based environments?

2. How financial institutions can use the data and insights to identify risky gambling and provide tools to help people prevent the development of gambling problems? Projects will likely use multidisciplinary frameworks building on research from psychology, consumer psychology, behavioural economics, business and public health. The methods will include a systematic review and may include qualitative and quantitative methods, experiments, and in-situ trials. Opportunities will be explored to work directly with financial institutions and gambling providers to enable real-world applied research.

Additional information

The student will be based within the Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic and Technology Addiction Team, within the School of Psychology and Brain and Mind Centre. This will enable access to many opportunities in addition to the extensive resources provided to postgrad students by USyd.


HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2859

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