Betting on gambling breakthroughs

Published: 7 April 2006

Dr Gerda Reith of the University of Glasgow will research the effects of social environment on gambling in Britain

University of Glasgow researcher, Dr Gerda Reith, will share in a grant of over £184,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to study the effects of social environment on gambling.

Dr Reith explains the project: 'With Britain's single biggest gambling event, the Grand National, taking place this weekend, and with continued discussions over the establishment of a 'super casino', tackling Britain's problem gambling is a very current issue. In the past decade, increasing liberalisation has transformed the climate of gambling in Britain, bringing the activity to greater numbers of people than ever before. However, despite the increased popularity of gambling, surprisingly little is known about the actual motivations, characteristics and lifestyles of gamblers and problem gamblers'

Working with the Scottish Centre for Social Research, Dr Reith, will look at the socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender and education of 'regular' as well as problem gamblers, and the availability of gambling opportunities. This focus will allow a much broader understanding of the social, cultural and economic issues than previous psychological and medical studies have allowed.

The researchers will talk to gamblers in a range of locations ヨ casinos, betting shops, arcades, bingo halls, as well as lottery and internet gamblers - to find out their motivations and reasons for playing. By conducting in-depth interviews with groups of gamblers over a three year period, the project will follow the individual's 'gambling careers', exploring how behaviour changes, and how it is influenced by local cultures. The study will look at problematic behaviour as a particular phase that can affect individuals at various points in their life, and will examine the way that behaviour waxes and wanes among this group. It will focus on key moments and processes of change, for example, how people begin gambling, points when playing increases or decreases, when individuals realise they have a problem and decide to seek help - or not - and the circumstances that surround this.

Dr Reith added: 'The approach of this project will allow research to move beyond more static 'snapshots' of individuals, to investigate the fluid and dynamic processes involved in gambling behaviour, allowing an examination of the 'how' and 'why' of change over time.'

Kate Richardson (

Dr Reith is available to speak to press on Friday 7 April

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535 or email

First published: 7 April 2006

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