In this section, people talk about the causes and consequences of the stigma and discrimination they experienced during their gambling difficulties.
From all sides, people got the message that they were solely to blame for the harm they and those around them experienced. People who had difficulties with gambling were greedy, lazy, weak, untrustworthy, and dangerous to others. People describe gambling as the hidden addiction, because it is not understood as addictive, and the range of people affected and the extent of harm were not visible. In addition, the fact that gambling was about money added a unique element to the stigma and shame. It was not easy to understand how people could behave this way with money.
People could not understand why gambling was not treated in government policy like other addictive, harmful activities, such as alcohol, smoking or drugs. There were much fewer restrictions on gambling and not the same level of education, public awareness, or treatment. There were no provisions in criminal justice, social care, or benefits as with other addictions. Additionally, it was not recognised as an issue in financial services, as other consumer vulnerabilities were.
The fact that the government discriminates by treating gambling differently from other harmful activities adds to the sense that people harmed by gambling do not matter and are to blame. The blame and shame people feel erode their mental health and self-worth and stop them from trying to get help. In this way, stigma and discrimination make gambling harm worse and harms from gambling themselves.