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Preventing gambling problems: Increasing engagement with voluntary consumer protection tools to reduce gambling harms


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.

Most interventions to reduce gambling harms focus on individuals experiencing severe problems. However, efforts and interventions to prevent gambling problems developing will have significant benefits for individuals, families, and the broad community. On average, 9 years elapses between first experiencing problems caused by gambling and seeking treatment, which typically occurs at a crisis point. Consumer protection tools aim to enhance self-control and management of gambling and include accessing accurate information about gambling spend and losses (e.g., activity statements), self-set limits on deposits and gambling spend, quarantining gambling funds or wins to prevent re-gambling, and temporary time-outs. These can be used in land-based gambling venues as well as online gambling sites. Initial research shows consumer protection tools are effective in reducing risky gambling. However, most are voluntary and take-up of consumer protection tools is quite low.


Professor Sally Gainsbury.

Research location

School of Psychology

Program type



This project aims to enhance the effectiveness of consumer protection tools by increasing consumer engagement with these. Psychological and behavioural economic principles (e.g., nudges, design, labelling, customized messages) will be explored to encourage customers, including in a targeted and personalized way, to use tools intended to prevent gambling harms. The project may include understanding barriers to tool use (e.g., feeling tools are not relevant, stigma, perceived effort, lack of perceived effectiveness) and how stakeholders (government, industry, community groups) can encourage tool use.

The methodology will include a systematic review of the relevant literature. Projects will include qualitative and quantitative methods, experiments, and in-situ trials. Opportunities will be explored to work directly with gambling providers to enable real-world applied research.

Additional information

he 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 licence;
  • 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.

Want to find out more?

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2944

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