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Research grant for understanding COVID-19 impacts on gambling in Victoria

Published:06 April 2021

Professor Nerilee Hing

CQUniversity’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory has secured a Victorian Government grant to assess how COVID-19 impacted gambling habits across the hard-hit state, and implications for reducing gambling harms.

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation granted $146,638 for the three-year project, led by Research Professor – Gambling Studies Nerilee Hing.

The study is part of a $600,000 grant round in the annual Grants for Gambling Research Program.

CQUniversity’s study, Catalyst or circuit breaker?, will assess relationships between gambling availability and gambling behaviours, harms and social, psychological and financial wellbeing. Prof Hing explained that the study will track a large cohort of people over three waves of survey research.

Prof Hing also noted that, while the study will assess how COVID-19 has affected gambling, it will also examine how changes in gambling availability influence people’s gambling, including substitution of in-venue gambling for online products.

"This has important implications for regulating gambling availability to reduce gambling harm," she said.

Prof Hing has recently led research showing that domestic violence is a social harm that is exacerbated by gambling, with a study for the Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.

The EGRL’s research has also informed the draft New South Wales Gaming Machines Amendment (Gambling Harm Minimisation) Bill 2020.

Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne said the research would be vital for understanding the variety of impacts of COVID-19 for gambling.

“We know that throughout the pandemic and the associated lockdown, some Victorians benefitted from an enforced break from in-venue gambling, while others found it incredibly challenging,” she said.

“To be able to plan and respond to gambling harm effectively, we need to know how COVID-19 affected gambling behaviours. This funding will be incredibly beneficial in understanding how those vulnerable to gambling were impacted by the pandemic.”

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation CEO Shane Lucas said early research showed big shifts in Victorian gambling habits.

“The most recent publicly available data shows online race and sports betting increased by 30 per cent compared to the same period the year before. It’s critical we understand and learn from these changes in gambling behaviour,” he said.

For more information about CQUniversity’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory visit cqu.edu.au/about-us/structure/schools/mas/research/experimental-gambling-research-laboratory.