Gambling addiction, gambling related harm and gambling problems - a knowledge synthesis and research agenda
On April 1st, 2021, online gambling was legalised in the Netherlands. The updated legislation states that gambling companies should contribute to research on prevention and treatment of gambling addiction via a gambling tax. This study involves a knowledge synthesis and research agenda for the designated research fund.
A systematic search of the scientific literature on gambling was executed (N = 8,614). Findings were summarised in a knowledge synthesis with six categories: vulnerable groups, prevention, treatment, product characteristics and environment, digital products and research practice, and prevalence. Interviews with national and international research and care experts and an expert meeting with representatives of gambling companies, care organisations, academia, and government, were organised to improve upon the knowledge synthesis and add relevant questions to the research agenda.
Central points of the knowledge synthesis include the finding that some vulnerable groups (like youth) are well studied, while for others (like elderly) there is little high quality research. Prevention is available, but there are not many well studied, publicly available programs with proven effectiveness. The literature on treatment is of high quality, but there are still detailed questions left. While most research is done on the level of the individual, experts advised to study the relationship between gambling problems and the context and structural characteristics of products. Finally, attention is needed for the prerequisites of research, including independence and access to data from gambling companies.
The exploration of the literature, practice and international situation showed that there are still many unanswered (applied) questions in gambling research. Moreover, there is room for improvement in the Netherlands in terms of the prerequisites for gambling research. Finally, the Dutch vision on gambling problems could be expanded by joining the international movement towards a harm related perspective.