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Is Fear to Intervene With Problem Gamblers Related to Interveners' Gender and Status? A Study With VLT Operators

Abstract

We assess how video lottery terminal (VLT) operators' self-perceive their ability to recognize a problem gambler, to what extent they are approached by problem gamblers seeking for assistance, how many detections and interventions they report, and the reasons they give for not intervening with clients who show signs of problem gambling. We also examine how these variables are related to the operators' gender and status in the establishment. 177 VLT operators anonymously completed a structured questionnaire at the beginning of a responsible gambling training class held in different French-speaking Swiss towns. The operators felt confident in their ability to detect problem gambling behaviors, were rarely approached by problem gamblers seeking assistance, and reported fewer interventions compared to the number of detections. This reluctance to intervene was mainly attributed to the fear of potential negative reactions from the client. Female staff were the most reluctant to intervene and the most fearful of potential negative reactions from the client. Responsible gambling training programs should include coping strategies for dealing with potential negative reactions from clients. Our findings suggest that staff gender and status are two individual characteristics that should be taken into account when planning responsible gambling trainings.