Dr Aino Suomi, Nina Lucas, Institute of Child Protection Studies; Associate Professor Nicki Dowling, School of Psychology, Deakin University; Professor Paul Delfabbro, School of Psychology, The University of Adelaide


Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, 2020-2021


The broad aim of the project is to systematically identify and map out gambling harms experienced by children due to parental gambling. The specific research questions are:

  1. What are the specific types of gambling related harm experienced by children of gambling parents?
  2. What is the relationship between parental gambling severity and gambling harm to children?
  3. What other factors (demographics, comorbidities, parenting, family functioning) contribute to the relationship between parental problem gambling and child wellbeing?


Family and relationships are commonly cited when estimating the economic and psychological costs of gambling harm. However, very little research exists on the effect of gambling harm experienced by the children of gamblers. This study seeks to examine and map out the specific types of gambling harm experienced by children by directly asking children and parents themselves.

The project has three stages:

  1. Review of available literature on gambling harm on children related to parental gambling.
  2. National online survey of around:
    1. 200 children of gambling parents
    2. 200 gambling parents
    3. 100 non‐gambling parents affected by co‐parent’s gambling.
  3. In‐depth qualitative interviews of the mechanism between parental gambling and harm experienced by children.

The data collection for the study finished in the first half of 2021, and data analysis is expected to finish in late 2021. We expect to find specific patterns of harm that children experience as a result of parental problem gambling that may involve emotional, behavioural, interpersonal, and financial problems as well as exposure to family violence and other family welfare concerns.

The outcomes of the study can be used for public health messaging to encourage help‐seeking for gambling harm. They can also inform treatment approaches for gamblers who are parents, their children and significant others.


Constantinou, M (2020). Problem gambling and families: the hidden voices of children. IMPACT, Australian Catholic University.

Dowling, N. A., Oldenhof, E., Cockman, S., Suomi, A., Merkouris, S. S., & Jackson, A. C. (2019). Problem gambling and family violence: Factors associated with family violence. victimisation and perpetration in problem gamblers. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Suomi, A., Bailey, M., Lucas, N., Dowling, N., & Delfabbro, P. (2023). “It’s like you’re not even there…”: Gambling harm experienced by children of gambling parents. Children and Youth Services Review: 145.

Suomi, A., Lucas, N., Dowling, N., Delfabbro, P. (2021). Gambling harm experienced by children of parents who gamble, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Melbourne.

Suomi, A., Dowling, N. A., Thomas, S. A., Abbott, M., Bellringer, M., Battersby, M., … & Jackson, A. C. (2018). Patterns of intimate partner and family violence in problem gamblers. Journal of Gambling Studies, 1-20.

Roberts, A., Landon, J., Sharman, S., Hakes, J., Suomi, A., & Cowlishaw, S. (2018). Gambling and physical intimate partner violence: Results from the national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions (NESARC). The American Journal on Addictions, 27(1), 7.

Cowlishaw, S., Suomi, A., & Rodgers, B. (2016). Implications of gambling problems for family and interpersonal adjustment: Results from the Quinte Longitudinal Study. Addiction. 111(9), 1628-1636.

Dowling, N. A., Suomi, A., Jackson, A. C., Lavis, T., Patford, J., Cockman, S., Thomas, S., Bellringer, M., Koziol-Mclain, J., Battersby, M., Harvey, P., & Abbott, M. (2016). Problem gambling and intimate partner violence: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. IF: 4.33

Dowling, N. A., Jackson, A. C., Suomi, A., Lavis, T., Thomas, S. A., Patford, J., … & Bellringer, M. E. (2014). Problem gambling and family violence: Prevalence and patterns in treatment-seekers. Addictive Behaviors, 39(12), 1713-1717.

Suomi, A., Jackson, A. C., Dowling, N. A., Lavis, T., Patford, J., Thomas, S. A., Harvey, P., Abbott, M., Bellringer, M. E., Koziol-McLain, J., & Cockman, S. (2013). Problem gambling and family violence: family member reports of prevalence, family impacts and family coping. Asian Journal of Gambling Issues and Public Health, 3(1), 1-15

Suomi, A., Lucas, N., Dowling, N., & Delfabbro, P. (2021). Parental problem gambling and child wellbeing: Systematic review and synthesis of evidence, Addictive Behaviors,


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