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Making It Better

Making It Better

Existing methods to treat problem gambling have been ineffective, so Sally Gainsbury (l.), one of the world’s leading researchers in the gambling field, decided to examine what could work better. Last month, Gainsbury released her latest research paper, titled “Behavioral Economics And Gambling: A New Paradigm For Approaching Harm-Minimization.” In the paper, Gainsbury and two colleagues, Juliette Tobias-Webb and Robert Slonim, identified five steps that could lead to a reduction in problem gambling. The study was funded by the University of Sydney and the Commonwealth Bank Australia.

To obtain a copy of the paper examining each step, visit

From a behavioral economics perspective, the development, implementation and evaluation of a gambling harm-minimization approach should:

  1. Identify and measure the specific target behavior(s), population(s), and signs of harm.
  2. Consider the context or structure of the decision-making environment to identify inaccurate beliefs (biases) or behavioral barriers preventing a desired behavior.
  3. Design a choice environment that equips people with the right tools to follow through with, and adhere to, a desired behavior.
  4. Preserve autonomy and empower individuals through freedom of choice.
  5. Incorporate evaluation into the implementation process, ideally via a randomized controlled trial.