Problem gambling

Are the odds stacked against you?

Have you ever wondered whether you, or someone you know, might have a problem with gambling?  It can seriously damage your relationships and your finances.

We explain some common warning signs associated with problem gambling as well as options available for getting help and support.

What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling is when a person is unable to limit how much time and money they spend on gambling. It is usually impulsive and can lead to relationship, financial and workplace problems for the gambler.

Sometimes people can't seem to limit their gambling because:

  • They are excited by the possibility of winning
  • They have won before and think they will win again
  • They want to escape reality
  • They like the social atmosphere of the place where they gamble.

Signs of problem gambling

Here are some signs that you might have a gambling problem:

  • You think about gambling a lot
  • You lose interest in social activities and your friends
  • You can't afford to gamble, but you find ways to do it anyway
  • You use rent or mortgage payments to gamble
  • You hide your gambling debts from loved ones
  • You lie about gambling and about where you have been when you gamble
  • You feel that your gambling is out of control and you need help.

Case study: Trevor loses big on the pokies

Young man with empty pocketsTrevor was in his 20s and had a job as a barman. He found his job stressful so, to relieve the stress, he played the pokies in his breaks and after work.

Trevor started out spending only $20 a night on the pokies but, when he felt really stressed, he played much more than that. He finally got to the point where he was spending all his wages every week on the pokies, hoping he could win back his losses to get his finances back on track.

After a few months of this, Trevor ended up with $10,000 of credit card debt as he had to put all his bills and rent on his credit card.

Trevor knew he was in trouble so he went to his parents to ask them for help. His parents helped him contact a financial counsellor. The financial counsellor helped him negotiate with his creditors and work out a plan to pay off his debts. His parents also encouraged Trevor to contact Gambling help online and they connected him with a local support group.

Trevor then decided to find a different job, where he will be less tempted to gamble.

What can you do if you have a gambling problem?

Here are some places to get help if you think you have a gambling problem:

  • Contact Gambling help online - They provide counselling, support and information for people experiencing problem gambling. Services include real time chat, email support and counselling that can be accessed confidentially. They also offer a short quiz to assess your gambling risk and tools to help you calculate how much you spend on gambling. Here is the Gambling help online website.
  • Speak to your family or friends - If you feel uncomfortable speaking to someone at Gambling help online, you should speak to someone close to you like your partner, a  family member or a friend, to share your situation with them. They can help support you and get you the help you need.

Worried about someone close to you?

Here are some common signs that your friend or relative might have a gambling problem.

  • They borrow money regularly from family and friends
  • They are always short of money even though they are working
  • They are juggling a number of loans
  • They are secretive about their finances
  • Their possessions are disappearing or being sold
  • They seem withdrawn from friends and social activities
  • They display changes in personality, such as unexplained anger and moodiness
  • They spend a lot of their free time studying gambling

Gambling help online has lots of useful information on how to help someone who may be a problem gambler. They also have guidance on how to talk to your loved one about their gambling issues and how to access professional help and services.

Problem gambling is a complicated, emotional issue. It is important to know where to get help, but also how to work out if your social gambling has become a problem.

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Last updated: 03 Jan 2018