GARC teamed up with AUT's Centre for Interdisciplinary Trauma Research to study problem gambling and family/whanau violence, in Problem gambling and family violence in help-seeking populations: co-occurrence, impact and coping. Half of the people who took part in the study reported being victims of abuse (either physical, psychological, emotional, verbal, or sexual) in the previous 12 months--and nearly half reported they had committed the abuse themselves. The largest category was verbal abuse, such as screaming or insulting, and the second-largest was physical harm or threats of harm.
Gambling was a factor in many cases - about half of the time, the participants said the violence in their relationships was a response to gambling. The participants in the study were recruited from problem gambling services, so they have a high representation (75%) of problem and moderate-risk gamblers. This also means the participants' usual gambling activities (pokies, casino games, and racing) match up with the most problematic gambling activities according to the Ministry of Health.
Any of the counsellors at PGF will tell you that problem gambling is rarely an isolated issue; that is, it's not the only problem people have going on in their lives. Whether it's alcohol, drugs, mental illness, or something else, there are frequently coexisting issues that accompany gambling. This research, first of its kind in New Zealand, shows that "the relationship between family/whanau violence and problem gambling can be the cause or effect of each other" (p.96). Whether the violence or the gambling occurs first, the fact that they are found together so frequently is cause for concern in our society.
For the study titled Measuring the burden of gambling harm in New Zealand, GARC worked with Central Queensland University's Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory. The goal of the project was to place gambling harm within the larger sphere of harms experienced by individuals and communities, to see how burdensome gambling harm truly is. To do this the team interviewed problem gambling treatment professionals and people who had experienced gambling harm, and surveyed people who had been affected by gambling. Their results allowed them to detail the many different forms gambling harm can take.
The taxonomy, or a classification of gambling harm that spans several pages, is an interesting read all on its own. It is broken down into several categories of harm -- financial, relationship disruption, emotional, criminal, etc. -- and describes a variety of ways gambling can impact lives and society. The harm is further broken down into general (how people are affected day-to-day while gambling harm is a part of their lives); crisis (significant events or conditions that can seriously disrupt lives); and legacy (ways that harm can continue affecting lives after the gambling is no longer happening). The sheer variety of gambling harms being presented is staggering; the report also presents quotes from participants to drive home the true extent of damage from gambling.