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Keywords:

  • Australia;
  • gambling;
  • national profile;
  • regulation;
  • research and treatment

ABSTRACT

Aims  The aim of this paper is to provide a critical overview of the development and current status of gambling in Australia.

Methods  The paper examines the history and current status of gambling in Australia with a particular focus on the prevalence of problem gambling in the community and developments in policy and treatment services.

Results  The paper highlights the contradictory role of State governments as both providers of treatment services as well as agents for the liberalization for gambling. It also shows how the notion of ‘addiction’ is conceptualized in Australian research and treatment services, including the preference for harm-based and public health approaches. Such perspectives view problem gambling as having multiple pathways and determinants that extend beyond the pathology of individuals.

Conclusions  Gambling in Australia provides a curious paradox. Highly liberalized State government policies that allow the proliferation of high intensity gambling coexist with extensive policy, regulation and research designed to address the negative impact of gambling on the Australian community.