Responsible Gambling Awareness Week

Samaritans CEO

This week NSW recognises Responsible Gambling Awareness Week.  It is an opportunity to reflect on the impact of problem gambling and to consider our own gambling behaviours.

The consequences of problem gambling are severe, yet often overlooked as the government sadly continues to support the gambling industry with many casinos escaping Sydney’s lock out laws.  The impact of gambling addiction is devastating not only on the individual but also on the people around them.   It is estimated that up to 10 people can be impacted by another person’s gambling.  Gambling can have severe consequences and lead to depression, relationship breakdown, financial stress and even criminal activity.  Of real concern is evidence linking problem gambling and family violence.

The family environments of people with gambling problems are characterised by high levels of anger and conflict.  A Melbourne University study revealed that anger brought on by problem gambling was the trigger in 44% of abuse cases.  Futhermore, victims of family violence during their childhood represent a higher proportion of gamblers in treatment, with many turning to gambling as a form of escapism to numb the pain of their past.  Similarly, the local pub or pokie room can become a safe haven for a woman escaping a violent partner and fuel gambling addiction.

The Government needs to recognise the greater consequences of gambling.  The ease of access to gambling, such as casinos that are open 24/7, incites problem gambling and vulnerable people are most at risk.  The government is committed to preventing family and domestic violence and so why is it not recognising the significant link between gambling and violence?  Legislation needs to reflect the severe impact of problem gambling and remove the ease of access to poker machines and online betting.