People with lifelong disability and their experiences of pubs and clubs in Australia
Pubs and clubs in Australia provide a range of leisure based activities for communities, however these venues also contain potentially harmful products, such as gambling. Gambling can cause significant health and social issues for individuals, families and communities. As research within the gambling field develops, there have been a number of groups who have been identified as being particularly at risk of experiencing gambling harm. Despite identified links between people with lifelong disability, for example those with intellectual disability, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy, and gambling little research has explored the impact of gambling on people with lifelong disability.
We conducted semi structured interviews with people with lifelong disability (n=19) in Victoria, Australia. Questions investigated participants’ use of pubs/clubs, knowledge of the activities within pubs/clubs, attitudes and knowledge about gambling within venues, and potential gambling harm reduction strategies. Thematic analysis was used to identify emerging themes within the data.
All participants attended pubs and clubs and most were aware of the activities within these venues, including gambling products. Participants often attended the venue with friends, family, or supporters and went to venues to socialise or eat meals together. Some participants gambled despite believing that gambling was a waste of money. A few participants demonstrated a detailed knowledge of gambling products, particularly electronic gambling machines. While responsible gambling messages were not identified by all participants, there was an awareness that gambling could result in negative consequences, such as financial and social loss. Strategies for reducing gambling harm were discussed by some participants. Participants thought accessible gambling education was important not only for people who were experiencing harm but also for the whole community. Other participants identified the need for changes to regulation such as reducing the number of electronic gambling machines within venues.
While it may be that pubs and clubs are positive venues for people with lifelong disability as they are a place of social inclusion, there needs to be an understanding of the potential harms within venues. The findings from this study demonstrate the need for future research to understand the impact gambling is having on the lives of people with lifelong disability. There is also a need for the development of evidence based harm reduction strategies, such as accessible education detailing the risks of gambling as a protective measure for people with lifelong disability.