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Staff Perceptions of Responsible Gambling Training Programs: Qualitative Findings

Abstract

Staff training in responsible gambling forms an integral component of industry measures designed to respond to and minimize gambling-related harms. Research suggests that venue staff members have the capacity to identify behavioral indicators of problem gambling among patrons, but often are reluctant or fail to respond to patrons unless directly approached for assistance. Understanding the barriers preventing staff from proactively intervening with identified patrons is necessary if a positive shift toward greater levels of assistance for at-risk individuals is to be achieved. A series of focus groups were conducted with management and floor staff (N = 20) from a large New South Wales registered club venue to better understand their experiences and attitudes towards existing responsible gambling training programs. Qualitative phenomenological data were analyzed using inductive thematic analyses and resulted in the identification of three primary domains: ability to identify harmful gambling behaviors; perceived challenges and barriers to intervention; and potential improvements to current programs. Responses were consistent with the literature in demonstrating staff abilities to identify behavioral indicators, but importantly revealed a lack of certainty and understanding in relation to their specific roles, potential legal consequences and implications for employment by taking the initiative to proactively intervene. Recommended improvements to strengthen the effectiveness of programs included the implementation of well-defined protocols setting out role expectations and procedures for floor staff to follow, and importantly, a fundamental shift in middle and senior management culture to one that actively supports and positively acknowledges staff-customer interactions designed to assist problem gamblers.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would also like to thank Bankstown Sports Club for their in kind support and ongoing involvement our research. Bankstown Sports Club did not have any influence in the design methodology of this research or any input into the interpretation of the results.

Funding

Funding for the study was provided by ClubsNSW through a gift of deed.

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Correspondence to Michelle Beckett.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The current study was approved by the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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All participants provided consent to participate in the study in accordance with the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee requirements for the conduct of human research.

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Appendix A: Probe Question Excerpt

Appendix A: Probe Question Excerpt

Front of House Staff and Team Leaders

  1. 1.

    What is your role, and how long you have been in it?

  2. 2.

    How do you interact with patrons on the gaming floor? [provide drinks, have a chat, etc.]

  3. 3.

    What behaviours do you see when patrons are gambling responsibly?

  4. 4.

    How do you know if someone is experiencing gambling related harms? [signs and indicators] [“Switching topic a little bit now”]

  5. 5.

    How has the RG training helped you interact with patrons at work?

    1. a.

      Both positively and negatively

  6. 6.

    What is the benefit of RG training to your job here? [“the venue”]

  7. 7.

    What is the value of responsible gambling training to patrons? [if not already mentioned in question 6]

  8. 8.

    What aspects of RG training do you use when interacting with patrons on the gaming?

  9. 9.

    [If not addressed in question 8] How has your RG training helped you respond to patrons showing signs of distress? [gambling-related]

    1. a.

      What are the aspects of your RG training that you find useful in helping patrons in distress?

    2. b.

      Are there particular aspects of the RG training that you use when people are not showing distress?

  10. 10.

    How do you determine when to approach someone in distress?

  11. 11.

    Describe barriers do you face when helping someone showing signs of distress? [gambling-related]

  12. 12.

    What support do you need from management to help you use your RG training? [Performance reviews, feedback, mentoring/shadowing/training]

  13. 13.

    What are the main areas where you would like to receive more skills and/or training in RG?

    1. a.

      In addition to skills and training, what other resources would help you assist patrons?

  14. 14.

    What recommendations could you give about how training might be more successfully implemented?

  15. 15.

    Is there anything else that you would like to share with us [about the RG training]?

Senior Management Staff

  1. 1.

    What is your role, and how long you have been in it?

  2. 2.

    How do you interact with patrons on the gaming floor?

  3. 3.

    What behaviours do you see when patrons are gambling responsibly?

  4. 4.

    How do you know if someone is experiencing gambling related harms? [signs and indicators] [“Switching topic a little bit now”]

  5. 5.

    What is the benefit of RG training to your job here? [“the venue”]

  6. 6.

    What is the value of responsible gambling training to patrons? [if not already mentioned in question 6]

  7. 7.

    What is the value of RG training to other staff members? [if not already mentioned in question 6]

  8. 8.

    What aspects of RG training do you use when interacting with patrons on the gaming?

  9. 9.

    [If not addressed in question 8] How has your RG training helped you respond to patrons showing signs of distress? [gambling-related]

    1. a.

      What are the aspects of your RG training that you find useful in helping patrons in distress?

    2. b.

      What are the aspects of your RG training that you find useful in helping staff members deal with patrons in distress?

    3. c.

      Are there particular aspects of the RG training that you use when people are not showing distress?

  10. 10.

    In your current job, what do you feel is appropriate for you to do in assisting patrons maintain healthy gambling?

    1. a.

      What do you feel is appropriate for your staff to do in assisting patrons maintain healthy gambling?

  11. 11.

    What do you feel you need in order to help staff promote RG?

  12. 12.

    What are the main areas where you would like to receive more skills and/or training in RG?

    1. a.

      Are there particular procedures, knowledge or skills that you feel would better allow you to provide customer service to gamblers?

    2. b.

      What might better prepare you to help other staff members who support patrons on the gaming floor?

    3. c.

      In addition to skills and training, what other resources would help you assist patrons?

  13. 13.

    What recommendations could you give about how training might be more successfully implemented?

  14. 14.

    Is there anything else that you would like to share with us today?

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Beckett, M., Keen, B., Swanton, T.B. et al. Staff Perceptions of Responsible Gambling Training Programs: Qualitative Findings. J Gambl Stud 36, 405–419 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09874-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09874-9

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