The Victorian government, led by Premier Dan Andrews, has announced plans to spend AU$600,000 through the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to research the effects of COVID-19 on gambling damage.
The aim of the study is to look at the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the gambling environment, as well as the consequences of associated behaviours and damage.
The funding will come from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s annual Grants for Gambling Research Program, which is based on the topic of “Gambling in Victoria in 2020 – COVID-19 and Beyond.”
Benefit from enforced break
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming, and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne said: “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.
“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.”
The following research projects have been granted investigative grants of up to $150,000 for three years:
- Catalyst or circuit breaker? A prospective cohort study to assess COVID-19’s effect on relationships between gambling availability, gambling behaviour, harm and social, psychological and financial wellbeing – Professor Nerilee Hing, CQ University.
- Economic insecurity and gambling behaviours in Victoria in the COVID-19 society – Professor Lisa Farrell, RMIT.
- How Victorian venue gamblers kept busy during COVID-19 venue closures: can substituted leisure activities reduce gambling urges and the risk of gambling harm? – Sarah Hare, Schottler Consulting.
Mid-career researcher grants of up to $100,000 were awarded over a two-year period to:
- Online gambling in a world changed by COVID-19: trajectories for people in the Sunraysia Aboriginal community – Associate Professor Sarah MacLean, La Trobe University
- Preventing a new epidemic during a pandemic: The Influence of COVID-19 related stressors on gambling behaviour in the moment and in the real world – Associate Professor Nicki Dowling, Deakin University.
Dr Stephanie Merkouris of Deakin University has been awarded an Early Career Researcher grant of up to $50,000 for 18 months for her project “Focus on Families: the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Harms and Support Needs of Families and Friends of Gamblers.”
Help develop future policies and programmes
The results of the six projects will be used by the Foundation to help develop future policies and programmes aimed at preventing and reducing gambling damage in Victoria.
According to Shane Lucas, CEO of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation: “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.”