Destination-style gambling: a review of the literature concerning the reduction of problem gambling and related social harm through the consolidation of gambling supply structures: final report

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Young, M, Tyler, B, & Lee, W 2007, “Destination-style gambling”: a review of the literature concerning the reduction of problem gambling and related social harm through the consolidation of gambling supply structures: final report, for the Department of Justice, Victorian Government, Melbourne, Vic., ISBN: 9781921028595


The goal of DSG concept is to reduce accessibility by vulnerable communities to convenience gambling by concentrating these opportunities in fewer dedicated gambling venues that require some effort and deliberate intention to visit. A regime that includes fewer venues will reduce the level of convenience-related gambling at the local level. Thus, in the context of harm minimisation, the principle of convenience gambling reduction through DSG is likely to be a sound policy. However, the effectiveness of DSG will depend on a meaningful reduction of EGM availability in poorer areas. Simply reducing total EGM densities across an area is likely to have limited effect. What is required is a spatial reconfiguration of supply, where gambling opportunities are completely reallocated in a way that affects the level of accessibility (taking into account space, time, and resource opportunities and constraints) within a vulnerable area. In essence, the effectiveness of the DSG model will depend on this simultaneous reduction in availability at the local level.

In terms of the DSG venues themselves it is to be expected that fewer venues will have a more powerful and extensive effect on the areas in which they are located than the convenience venues they are designed to replace. As DSG venues are likely to occupy a new market, they will represent a case of supply-led growth. The extent to which DSG reaches new markets will depend on a range of situational variables including product mix, range of facilities and attraction, location of complementary activities such as shopping or entertainment, degree of marketing, and general amenity value. The real question is if this growth into new markets (and the harm caused by it, that is, the dispersal of problem gambling into new social groups) is to be offset by the reduction in convenience gambling.

What is important in the DSG model is its capability to socially reposition the burden of harm. The DSG markets are likely to be more affluent (given by the fact that DSG is predicated on increased accessibility which means more spatial mobility which in turn requires wealth). The incidence of problem gambling may increase in these new markets. Conversely, the accessibility of the less mobile, lower socioeconomic groups who live in areas highly provisioned to gambling opportunities may be reduced, resulting in a lowering of problem gambling. In essence this amounts to a trade-off. DSG gaming venues may increase problem gambling but this will be discounted by the reduction in convenience gambling.

The degree to which this trade-off occurs (i.e. an increase in the harm among new groups versus a decrease of harm in existing, lower socioeconomic groups) will be mediated by the ability of larger DSG venues to implement effective harm reduction strategies. This is an advantage of the destination concept. If we accept that DSG venues will be the diametric opposite of convenience gambling, they will not only have the advantages of venue-based regulation and monitoring or problems, they will also have a strong community attachment and involvement. This would place DSG venues in a powerful position to implement preventative harm reduction measures (including issues of venue design), monitoring strategies, and amelioration programs that are simply beyond the ability of smaller venues or convenience gambling styles.

Given that gambling operations (e.g. casinos and clubs) are increasingly positioned as socially responsible corporations with responsibilities to regulators, the potential exists for DSG venues to meaningfully involve local communities into the overall harm reduction framework. The support of local communities depends not only on the facilities and amenities that DSG will provide, but also on how the DSG as a harm reduction measure is marketed. The success of DSG will depend in part on how well this ideology of harm redistribution is accepted by the community – whether they are seen as a meaningful restriction and control of supply or as a mechanism for further EGM distribution.