Prof Samantha Thomas



Professor, Public Health


Faculty of Health


School of Health & Soc. Dev.


Melbourne Burwood Campus



Samantha is a public health sociologist in the Determinants of Health Team, Institute for Health Transformation. She is the Higher Degree Research Coordinator for the School of Health and Social Development, and is the co-ordinator of the Qualitative Special Interest Group: Innovative Qualitative Methods in the School of Health and Social Development and the Institute for Health Transformation.

Samantha specialises in the commercial and political determinants of health, and public health advocacy. She specialises in understanding the range of factors that may contribute to the prevention and reduction of gambling related harm. Samantha has conducted a range of studies in the area of gambling, including the impact of gambling advertising on young people, young men and sports betting, young women's gambling, and factors that may contribute to the normalisation of gambling. She is involved in developing education programs relating to gambling harm prevention and reduction both in Australia and the United Kingdom. She is currently involved in projects examining the impact of tobacco marketing on young men in Cambodia, and new strategies to engage young people in climate change advocacy.

Prior to joining Deakin, Samantha worked at the World Health Organisation (Geneva), King's College London, Monash University, and the University of Wollongong.

Samantha has an extensive track record in competitive grant funding, and has received grants from the ARC Discovery and Linkage Grant Schemes, the NHMRC, the Victorian Department of Justice, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Gambling with Lives (UK) and the NSW Office of Gaming.

Samantha has provided expert testimony to a number of Australian Parliamentary Inquiries, including the Australian Senate Committee on Gambling Reform. She most recently provided expert testimony to the UK House of Lords, and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm in the UK.

Her work is regularly featured in national and international press including ABC Four Corners.

Samantha currently supervises six PhD students in the area of gambling harm and tobacco control. Current PhD and Honours projects include:

  • The normalisation of gambling for older adults
  • Women and gambling related harm 
  • Young men and sports betting
  • The impact of tobacco marketing on young men in Cambodia The role of industry discourses on the normalisation of gambling
  • Conceptualisations of gambling risk, and housing instability
  • Youth advocacy for climate change 
Read more on Samantha's profile

Knowledge areas


Tobacco Control

Public Health Advocacy

Youth health

Commercial determinants of health

Political determinants of health

Qualitative research

Media appearances,-drawing-on-deakin-research


No publications found

Funded Projects at Deakin

Australian Competitive Grants

Selling The Punt: An interdisciplinary analysis of the extent and impact of sports wagering marketing strategies in Australia.

Prof Samantha Thomas, Prof Michael Daube, Dr Ross Gordon, Prof Gerard Hastings, Prof Jeffrey Derevensky

ARC - Discovery Projects

  • 2017: $48,077
  • 2016: $110,948

The big gamble: The normalisation of gambling in Australia

Prof Samantha Thomas, Dr Melanie Randle, Prof Michael Daube, Prof Susan Balandin, Dr Sean Cowlishaw, Prof Sylvia Kairouz, Dr Rebecca Cassidy

ARC - Discovery Projects

  • 2021: $18,600
  • 2020: $93,105
  • 2019: $86,909

The impact of gambling advertising, promotions, and sponsorship on children

Prof Samantha Thomas, Dr Hannah Pitt

ARC - Discovery Projects

  • 2021: $25,286

Other Public Sector Funding

A public health analysis of gambling marketing activities: Themes, targets, and impacts.

Prof Samantha Thomas, Prof Michael Daube, Dr Melanie Randle, Prof Simone Pettigrew

  • 2016: $48,064

The commercial determinants of gambling normalisation: Causes, consequences and public health advocacy responses

Prof Samantha Thomas, Prof Michael Daube, Dr Melanie Randle, Dr Melissa Stoneham

  • 2018: $7,874
  • 2017: $70,874
  • 2016: $78,749

Rethinking Approaches to Reducing Problem Gambling Stigma

Prof Samantha Thomas, Prof Stuart Thomas

  • 2016: $23,276

The shaping of adolescent and young adult women's gambling risk behaviours: A socio-cultural investigation of gambling attitudes, beliefs and consumption intentions

Prof Samantha Thomas, Miss Amy Bestman, Dr Hannah Pitt

  • 2018: $48,749
  • 2017: $65,903

Pathways to the Pokies

Prof Samantha Thomas, Prof Susan Balandin, Dr Melanie Randle, Dr Sean Cowlishaw

  • 2019: $18,275
  • 2018: $42,643

People with lifelong disability and their lived experiences of gambling

Dr Hannah Pitt, Dr Joanne Watson, Miss Amy Bestman, Prof Samantha Thomas, Prof Susan Balandin

  • 2020: $24,809
  • 2019: $14,885
  • 2018: $9,923

Responsible gambling for preventing and reducing harm through digital education.

Dr Nick Patterson, Mrs Sophie Mckenzie, Prof Jo Coldwell-Neilson, Dr Elicia Lanham, Dr Guy Wood-Bradley, Dr Chathu Ranaweera, Prof Samantha Thomas, Dr Hannah Pitt

  • 2019: $75,000

The receptivity of young people to gambling marketing strategies on social media platforms.

Dr Hannah Pitt, Prof Samantha Thomas

  • 2020: $29,761

Industry and Other Funding

Developing evidenced based gambling harm prevention education for young people.

Prof Samantha Thomas, Dr Hannah Pitt

  • 2020: $20,000


Principal Supervisor

Jennifer David

Thesis entitled: The role of public health advocacy: Strategies to prevent and reduce gambling related harm

Doctor of Philosophy (Health & Social Development), School of Health & Social Development

Amy Bestman

Thesis entitled: Pathways to Electronic Gambling Machine Venues in New South Wales

Doctor of Philosophy (Health & Social Development), School of Health & Social Development


Helen Miller

Thesis entitled: The problem with 'responsible' gambling: Government, industry and consumer approaches.

Doctor of Philosophy (Health & Social Development), School of Health & Social Development

Hannah Pitt

Thesis entitled: Sports betting advertising: Shaping children's gambling attitudes and consumption intentions

Doctor of Philosophy (Health & Social Development), School of Health & Social Development


Emily Deans

Thesis entitled: Young men's gambling: The influence of socio-cultural and marketing factors

Doctor of Philosophy (Health & Social Development), School of Health & Social Development