Problem gamblers pass habit down
Pokies debt spiralling
charlie. TOWNSVILLE gamblers are blowing $ 300,000 a day on pokies and falling deep in debt.
In the three months to July, $ 25,932,558 was put into Townsville’s 1600 electronic gaming machines in 40 licensed venues across the city.
While that figure only accounts for pokie players, Centacare Townsville Gambling Help counsellor Marivel Day- day believes pokie players represent more problem gamblers than any other form. The daily figure has risen to $ 284,973 – nearly $ 100,000 more than in 2006 when the issue was also reported as a growing problem.
“It is too much money and it is a growing problem,” Ms Dayday said.
“There are people wondering why they can’t afford basic needs for themselves and their families – the answer is the gambling problem. It affects partners and other family members and also impacts on family relationships and creates emotional problems.”
Ms Dayday estimates 3 per cent of Townsville’s population was among the 17,000 Queensland adults considered “problem gamblers”.
She said she had noticed a spike in those seeking help this month and put it down to people splashing out after receiving their tax returns.
“I’ve been doing this for eight years and I notice an influx at this time every year,” she said.
“We aren’t seeing people saving money, in fact, a lot of people feel they are not earning enough and see gambling as an easy fix for their problems.”
Problem gamblers come from all walks of life and often pass their habit from one generation to the next.
However, only 17 per cent of problem gamblers actually seek help for their destructive habit – something Centacare is trying to change. “There is evidence of a correlation between gambling problems and family violence and children of problem- gambling parents are at much higher risk of developing gambling problems themselves,” Ms Dayday said.
As part of Responsible Gambling Awareness week, the group has been busy increasing their promotion of responsible gambling tips.
For help, phone Centacare Townsville on 4772 9000 or Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 or visit gamblinghelponline. org. au.