Objective: To inform public health approaches to problem gambling by examining how the news media covers problem gambling, with a particular focus on the causes, consequences and solutions to problem gambling, and the ‘actors’ and sources who influence media coverage.
Methods: A qualitative content analysis guided by framing theory analysed coverage of problem gambling in Australian newspapers in the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012.
Results: Solutions to problem gambling were more frequently discussed than causes and consequences. A focus on the responsibility of individuals was preferred to reporting that focused on broader social, ecological, and industry determinants of problem gambling. Reporting was highly politicised, with politicians frequently quoted and political issues frequently discussed. In contrast, the community sector, health professionals and problem gamblers were rarely quoted.
Conclusions and implications: This analysis has revealed the need for a more proactive, coordinated approach to the media by both public health researchers and health groups. The establishment of a gambling-specific coalition to push for evidence-based reform is recommended.