Placing bets: gambling venues and the distribution of harm

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Publication details

Young, M, Markham, F & Doran, B 2012, 'Placing bets: gambling venues and the distribution of harm', Australian Geographer, vol. 43, no. 4, pp. 425-444.

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The liberalisation of gambling in Australia has resulted in the dispersal of 200 000 electronic gaming machines (EGMs) across the country, generating substantial revenues for State governments and the gambling industry as well as causing significant gambling-related harm. While the spatial distribution of EGM venues has been shown to follow a gradient of community disadvantage, little is known about the distinctions between the venues themselves (i.e. pubs, clubs, and casinos), either in terms of the catchments they service or the harm they produce. To this end, we constructed a sexpartite typology of EGM venues in the Northern Territory of Australia derived from venue location and licensing variables. We also conducted a geocoded mail survey (n=7041) of households in three urban centres to describe the composition of markets and problem-gambling outcomes across the six venue categories in the typology. Venues in accessible locations and those with a higher numbers of EGMs, particularly casinos and clubs located near supermarkets, were most closely associated with gambling-related harm, even when differing player socio-demographics were accounted for. We argue that gambling risk is a function of the interaction of geographic accessibility to markets on the one hand and venue effects on the other. An understanding of the geography of EGM gambling may help improve supply-side approaches to regulation, as well as shed insights into contemporary urban processes within Australia's regional settlements.

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