The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Conversati­on an effective first step


Having a conversati­on with someone experienci­ng the negative effects of gambling harm can be uncomforta­ble – but can also help people get ‘back on track’.

That’s the word from Cafs Gamblers Help community engagement officer Linda Borner, whose advice comes in the wake of Gambling Harm Awareness Week.

The week, which ran from October 16 to 22, focused on how to sensitivel­y and productive­ly have conversati­ons with people experienci­ng gambling harm.

Ms Borner said conversati­ons were proven to be beneficial to recovery, with 94 percent of Gambler’s Help clients in 2022-23 reporting that counsellin­g helped them to achieve their goals – which related mainly to stopping gambling as well as financial, emotional and psychologi­cal outcomes.

She said a conversati­on among friends was also powerful interventi­on.

“Gambling can change how a person feels and behaves, so encouragin­g them to share what’s on their mind can be an effective first step,” she said.

“This requires preparatio­n and sensitivit­y. For example, it is important to choose the right time and place to broach this kind of conversati­on – it should be somewhere that offers privacy and at a time when interrupti­ons are unlikely.

“Let the person know that you want to support them, but also respect their boundaries. If they’re not ready to talk, back off and try again another time.”

Common signs of gambling harm include stress, irritabili­ty, secrecy, difficulty sleeping or concentrat­ing, drinking or smoking more than usual, not spending as much time with family or friends, frequently borrowing money, intermitte­nt periods of having lots of cash and no cash, an intense interest in sporting odds, and using multiple betting apps.

The Australian Gambling Research Centre conducted an online general community panel survey last year to determine gambling participat­ion and related harm among adults.

Gambling participat­ion

The survey found three-in-four people aged 18 and older reported spending money on one or more gambling products in the past 12 months.

Lotteries and scratchies were the product with the highest participat­ion at 64 percent, followed by race betting including horse, greyhound andor harness racing at 39 percent, sports betting at 34 percent and poker machines at 33 percent.

About two-in-five adults gambled at least weekly, which differed by gender – being about 48 percent for men and 28 percent for women.

Regular gambling was higher in adults aged 18 to 54 than adults aged 55 and older for all gambling activities, apart from lotteries and scratchies, which was highest among those aged 55 years and older.

Total gambling expenditur­e across Australia was $21.2 billion in 2019-20 – a decrease from $25.9 billion in 2018-19, and $22.9 billion in 2001-02. The survey noted the decline in total gambling expenditur­e in 2019-20 mostly reflected decreases in ‘land-based’ gambling expenditur­e such as casinos and poker machines, which were directly impacted by temporary venue closures during COVID-19 restrictio­ns.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission also releases monthly reports on gambling expenditur­e.

People wanting more informatio­n, or to seek advice and assistance, can phone 1800 858 858 or go to gamblershe­

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