Problem Gambling in Australia
Before we get started, what is problem gambling? It is when your gambling activities begin to interfere with other parts of your life. Once that happens, it is important to recognize that you have a problem and begin the healing process before your losses (financial and otherwise) get out of control. Read through this simple guide to find out if you're one of the problem gamblers in Australia and, if so, discover what you can do to turn things around today!
Do I have a gambling problem?
One in six Australians that plays pokies on a regular basis has some sort gambling problem. So how can you tell if your gambling has gotten out of control? To start with, you need to ask yourself some questions about the effect that gambling is having on your life. Do you ever lose sleep over gambling? What about time - do you ignore work (or school) responsibilities because of your gambling. Do you ever gamble longer than you plan to or use gambling as a way to attempt to earn money to pay off debts or solve financial problems? If you said yes to any of these questions, you may very well have a gambling addiction. If you constantly feel the need to come back and win back your losses, you may be losing tens of thousands of dollars each year, but you are not alone.
You can also check out our questionnaire that will help you to define the effect that gambling may be having on your life, as well as the extent to which it may be interfering in your daily activities.
Australia's Gambling Problem
Even though there are an estimated 500,000 Australians that either are already problem gamblers or at risk of becoming problem gamblers, this number represents only a small percentage of Aussies that gamble. In fact, according to the Australian Department of Families, Housing, Community Services, and Indigenous Affairs, 70% of Australians participated in gambling in 2009, which is only slightly down from 80% in 2007. Regardless, Australians gamble more than people from any other country in the world! There are many legal gambling opportunities, with over 4,000 locations licensed to operate pokie machines countrywide, and the government does not even tax gambling winnings. According to the government, "For most people, gambling is a form of entertainment that is enjoyed responsibly."
Fixing the Problem
Casinos may have a lot of resources to help players reduce their gambling problems but, if you really think that you cannot control your own betting, then land casinos in Australia (and around the world) often give players the chance to be listed on a self-exclusion list. This lets players ban themselves from all government-regulated casinos (at the risk of arrest) and it is generally considered a final solution. Before you even consider this option, though, try to set (and follow) betting limits and know how much you can afford to lose in any given situation. If your gambling problem proves too strong, though, self-exclusion might be your best option.
You're Not Alone - Help is Only a Click Away
Problem gamblers now have more options than ever before when it comes time to resolving their addiction. You can always go the traditional route with groups like Gamblers Anonymous and Centrelink Australia, but there are also some digital options. Gambling Help Online (gamblinghelponline.org.au) is probably the best of these. Regardless of your choice, though, just know that many have already had success turning things around and, with a little bit of hard work, you can change your life and move forward. You just have to take the first step.
It would be dangerously naive to suggest that no one who gambles online runs the risk of playing beyond their limits. Knowing those limits is a highly personal process, but Australians who fear that they're abandoning responsibility when playing at an online casino have a number of options for immediate help.
The first path for such players leads to the casino itself, which will almost always have a self-exclusion function that will immediately block your access to the product for a set period of time. It's much better to be safe than sorry when employing this function.
Away from the casino, there are a number of reputable, no-cost organizations devoted to helping Australians maintain a healthy attitude regarding gambling.
- Gambling Help Online (http://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/) offers immediate access to counsellors via online chat. GHO is a respected, accredited organization that provides a range of additionalservices to casino players struggling with self-control.
- Gambler's Anonymous Australia (http://gaaustralia.org.au/) provides community-based support for those at risk of problem gambling behaviour.
- Mission Australia (http://www.missionaustralia.com.au) is another organization that gives free services to gamblers (and their families), including face-to-face therapy and access to treatment for related issues.
For those looking for assistance a little closer to home, we've provided some problem gambling resources by Australian territory to help you get that helping hand you need
New South Wales
- Gambling Impact Society - The GIS (NSW) is a not-for-profit organization that works with communities and individuals to increase awareness and resolve the causes of problem gambling.
- Gambling Help - Gambling Help has almost two decades of experience in helping people with problem gambling, and offers counselling services for people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
- Problem Gambling - Offering free, confidential advice to those with problem gambling issues. They are available 24 hours a day.
- The Free Yourself Program - This program offers a unique and holistic approach to help that part of you that doesn't want to gamble to overcome that part of you that does.
- Problem Gambling Help - South Australia - This website offers a variety of resources for those looking for help, as well as ways to reach counsellors in your area.
- CentaCare - Queensland - Provides a wide array of community support services and has been doing so for over 50 years.
- Amity Community Services - Formed in 1976, Amity is a non-profit organization that assists people in overcoming problem behaviours, such as gambling.
- Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor - This problem gambling resource page offers a toll free, 24 hour helpline to call for counselling.
- Department of Health and Human Services - This site gives you access to free, 24-hour phone support. In addition, they can also help you with face-to-face counselling.
Australian Capital Territory
- Mission Australia - ACT - Mission Australia has over 3,500 volunteers and offers free face-to-face and telephone counselling, both for gamblers and their families.
Take Our Gambling Questionnaire
We have prepared a short questionnaire to give you an indication of how gambling may be interfering with or affecting your daily life. Read through these questions and select "yes" or "no" as a response for each. Be honest with yourself and answer the questions candidly.
Please remember that this short quiz is not a substitute for speaking to a professional about your gambling concerns. If you feel that you may have a serious problem, we recommend seeking professional help.