Making Gamblers Anonymous less anonymous: a qualitative study

Mr Jim Rogers

Senior Lecturer

Jim had a career in statutory addictions services for eleven years before moving into the voluntary sector for several years. Since moving into higher education he has largely been involved in graduate and post graduate social work programmes. He has diverse teaching responsibilities and research interests. He has undertaken systematic reviews in relation to complementary therapies and problem gambling, primary research in care homes, reviews of the role of social work in responding to gambling problems, and research with students in relation to digital literacies.

After previously completing a masters degree in health sciences research Jim is currently in the final stages of a Phd which involves both ethnographic research with problem gamblers and with Gamblers Anonymous meetings; and analysis of gambling policy.

Jim is co author of two textbooks for social work students: Social Work in a Digital Society, and Social Work with Adults (SAGE).



The UK Gambling commission ( 2014) suggests that 700,000 adults in England and Scotland are either moderate risk or problem gamblers. There is little funded help for those who identify as having gambling related problems, with just one London based NHS problem gambling clinic seeing some 800 people per year. Gamblers Anonymous (GA) provides much of the face to face help available to problem gamblers in the UK. There have been no published studies of GA in this country in the last 25 years. The aim of this study was to explore the process and content of contemporary GA meetings. Access to an 'open' GA meeting in one city in the North of England was negotiated and twenty meetings were attended and observed in 2014 and 2015. In addition semi-structured interviews with six regular attenders took place. Resulting data was analysed using thematic analysis. Nine key themes emerged: gender; the structure of meetings; the issue of money; the power of meetings and regular attendance; identity as a compulsive gambler and as a member of the GA community;support outside of meetings; dealing with co morbidities; suicide; and crime and gambling. Many of the findings match those of studies conducted in relation to GA in the US and elsewhere. However, there are some clear cultural differences and some new themes emerged.  The study reveals that the frequency and significance of both gambling related crime, and suicidal ideation, is particularly high in attenders at GA meetings. It also shows that the support provided by regular GA meetings is also complemented by very regular use of social media.


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