In regional Australia, families (including children), attend community venues that contain gambling products, such as electronic gambling machines (EGMs), for a range of non-gambling reasons. However, there is a gap in research that seeks to understand how these venues may become embedded into family social practices. Drawing on Bourdieu's concepts of habitus and cultural capital, this paper aimed to explore factors that influence family decisions to attend venues and perceptions of risk associated with children's exposure to gambling products. Face-to-face qualitative interviews were conducted with 31 parents who attended community gambling venues with their children, in New South Wales, Australia. Families attended venues for three key reasons, first because of the influence of others in their social networks, second for regular social activities and third because of structural factors such as a lack of alternative, affordable, family friendly environments in their local area. Despite recognizing the harm associated with EGMs, parents distanced themselves from EGM harm with all parents perceiving venues to be an appropriate space for families. Research in this study indicates that family social practices within venues affect perceptions of risk associated with community gambling venues. The impact of these practices on longer-term health requires more investigation by public health and health promotion researchers and practitioners. Health promotion initiatives should consider identifying alternative sources of support and/or developing alternative social spaces for families in regional communities that do not contain gambling products.
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