Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2021

This week is Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2021 which provides an opportunity for people to talk openly about what gambling harm is, what can be done to prevent it, and how to support those affected by it.

ACTCOSS is a member of the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance (CGRA). As Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2021 comes to an end, ACTCOSS is calling on the ACT Government to implement all of the CGRA’s recommendations to minimise harm from gambling for all Canberrans, including people who face vulnerability and disadvantage.

These recommendations includes:

  • a reduction in the number of poker machines in the ACT
  • limiting access to cash in gambling venues
  • the introduction of a $1 bet limit on poker machines and limit loads up to $100
  • a ban on poker machine operation between 2am and 10am; and
  • increased in transparency of the community contributions scheme.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “Gambling harm can be experienced in many ways such as financial harm, relationship disruption, psychological distress, cultural harm and reduced work or study performance.

“This year, Gambling Harm Awareness Week aims to reinforce the importance of everyone in the community knowing the signs of gambling harm.”

The key signs of gambling harm include: spending more time or money than intended; having less money than you should; having regrets or feeling guilty after playing; losing focus at work or social events; trying to win back your losses; spending less time with people you care about; hiding how much you play; and playing after the fun stops

Dr Campbell continued: “As we begin to emerge from lockdown, it is likely that gambling in the ACT will increase drastically as pubs and clubs reopen.

“It is crucial that people are aware of these signs and are able to contact support networks to seek help if needed. In the ACT, anyone who is concerned about their own or affected by a family member’s gambling can call 1800 858 858 for help and advice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

ACTCOSS has welcomed the establishment of the Community Clubs Ministerial Advisory Council which is supporting the building of a long-term, sustainable clubs sector in the ACT while reducing reliance on gambling. However, Dr Campbell said that this should not preclude the timely introduction of strategies to minimise the damage to individuals, families and the broader community caused by gambling.

“Using pokies is the most effective predictor of problem gambling in the ACT – the risk of gambling harm increases the more time someone spends on pokies. Prior to the pandemic and even with the increase in online gambling, poker machines continued to cause the most significant harm to the Canberra community. That’s why we need to enact the CGRA’s recommendations as soon as possible,” said Dr Campbell

“The use of online gambling platforms also continues to grow creating significant threats to wellbeing in our community. The ability to use credit cards for online gambling exacerbates the harm that can be caused by online gambling.

“ACTCOSS has called on the Federal Government to urgently address gambling harm resulting from online gambling by preventing online gambling service providers from accepting payments by credit cards,” Dr Campbell said.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

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