International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 1284–1300 | Cite as

The “Walk of Shame”: a Qualitative Study of the Influences of Negative Stereotyping of Problem Gambling on Gambling Attitudes and Behaviours

Original Article


Problem gambling is known to be associated with significant stigma, but there is limited research on the negative stereotypes that underpin this judgement. Understanding the stereotypes that contribute to the stigmatisation of problem gambling may help to identify new approaches to reducing gambling stigma. Using data collected during 100 in-depth qualitative interviews with gamblers in Victoria, Australia, we explored factors which underpin negative stereotypes about people with gambling problems, the influence of negative stereotypes on behaviours and attitudes and differences in attitudes to different gambling products. Participants perceived that people with gambling problems were lacked responsibility and control, as were “lazy”, “stupid” and “greedy.” Electronic gambling machine (EGM) gamblers were particularly stigmatised. Negative stereotypes focusing on personal responsibility led to feelings of guilt and shame in people with gambling problems, as well as increased social isolation, and also impacted on moderate-risk gamblers, who contrasted their own behaviour with a stereotyped idea of a person with a gambling problem. Participants linked stereotyped portrayals of problem gambling to discussions of the gambling industry, which they perceived focused on control and responsibility, and the media, which they perceived emphasised extreme negative consequences from gambling. This study suggests that negative stereotypes focusing on personal responsibility for gambling problems are a factor leading to the stigmatisation of people with gambling problems.


Gambling Problem gambling Stigma Personal responsibility 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study involved analysis of data collected for a project funded by the Victorian Government Department of Justice through the Grants for Gambling Research Program.

Competing Interests

Helen Miller is an employee of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. The authors have no other completing interests to declare.

Ethics Declaration

All procedure followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Population Health Research, School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of HealthDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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