Dr Reece Bush-Evans represented Bournemouth University at this year’s Bourne Free festival, discussing his research into the impact of gambling on LGBTQ+ communities.
As part of the university’s Gambling Research Group, Dr Bush-Evans has been exploring the reasons why LGTBTQ+ people may turn to gambling.
“Gambling is enjoyed by many, very safely. However, there is a significant minority of individuals, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community, who might be exposed to gambling harms,” Dr Bush-Evans said at the festival. “So we’re here to talk to the community themselves about their experiences with gambling and to see if there are any issues that we can help with,” he continued.
Early findings from his research suggest that gambling is used as a coping mechanism for some, and that some people in the community might use gambling as a means to mask their sexuality.
“From some of the people that we’ve interviewed we found that individuals gamble for particular reasons. For example, the life stressors experienced by some LGBTQ+ individuals - such as harassment, discrimination, social isolation might be triggering mechanisms for some individuals to turn to gambling,” Dr Bush-Evans added.
The study has also identified that some LGBTQ+ people who gamble do so online because they feel that physical premises can be an intimidating environment for them, and that gambling support services might not cater for their unique needs.
Dr Bush-Evans was joined on the stand at Bourne Free by partners at charities Ygam and the Gordon Moody Association. Ygam works to prevent gambling harms to children and young people and the Gordon Moody Association provides advice and support to people affected by gambling addiction.
Jack Hill, Training and Engagement Manager at Ygam said, “LGBTQ+ people have traditionally needed something a bit different when it comes to the services they access. So we’ve been working with Bournemouth University to improve what we’re offering with our young persons gambling harm prevention programme.”
Samantha Maskell, Recruitment and Learning and Development Manager at Gordon Moody added, “We have recently been working with Bournemouth University and with Reece to understand and reach out to different communities, to build a research pack to find out what additional support can be needed and how we can adapt and build on out current programmes."
The appearance at Bourne Free, follows a reception held by the Gambling Research Group at the Houses of Parliament where they were able to discuss their research and policy recommendations with parliamentarians.
Dr Bush-Evans’ research is continuing, and he expects to publish his full findings later this year. He is also looking to expand his work into the trans community to see if their unique life stressors also make them vulnerable to gambling harms.