Gambling expenditure predicts harm: evidence from a venue-level study

Addiction. 2014 Sep;109(9):1509-16. doi: 10.1111/add.12595. Epub 2014 Jun 5.


Background and aims: The Total Consumption Theory of gambling suggests that gambling expenditure is positively associated with gambling-related harm. We test the hypothesis that electronic gaming machine (EGM) expenditure predicts gambling-related harm at the level of the EGM venue.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis of survey and administrative data.

Setting: General urban adult population of the Northern Territory of Australia.

Participants: The sample consisted of 7049 respondents to a mail-survey about venue visitation and gambling behaviour across 62 EGM venues.

Measurements: Gambling-related harm was defined as the endorsement of two or more items on the Problem Gambling Severity Index. We obtained venue-level EGM expenditure data from the local licensing authority for all venues in the study area. We compared the prevalence of gambling-related harm among patrons aggregated at the venue level with the estimated mean EGM expenditure for each adult resident in the venue's service area using a Huff model, correlation analysis and multivariate binomial regression.

Findings: Aggregated to the venue level (n = 62), per-capita EGM expenditure was correlated significantly with rates of gambling-related harm (r = 0.27, n = 62, P = 0.03). After adjusting for venue type and number of EGMs, an increase in mean per-capita monthly EGM expenditure from $AU10 to $AU150 was associated with a doubling in the prevalence of gambling-related harm from 9% (95% CI = 6-12%) to 18% (95% CI = 13-23%).

Conclusions: As suggested by the Total Consumption Theory of gambling, aggregate patron electronic gaming machine expenditure predicts the prevalence of gambling-related harm at the venue level.

Keywords: Electronic gaming machines; Total Consumption Theory; gambling expenditure; gambling venues; gambling-related harm; slot machines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gambling / economics*
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Northern Territory
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • GENBANK/H09048