Gambling with money you can afford to lose can be a bit of harmless fun, but it can also lead to disaster if it gets out of hand, not just for an individual but for their families.
In this episode, David Tunnicliffe from Grey Matters highlights the enormity of the losses to gambling in Australia each year, amounting to 2.6 billion dollars annually on pokies alone.
He says older people are more vulnerable to getting into difficulties with gambling harm and it can cause devastating impacts on their lives. People aged over 65 make up the biggest users of pokies and kino offered in pubs and clubs, as well as Lotto. Older people patronise clubs to make social connections and escape loneliness, attracted by cheap drinks, meals, entertainment and free shuttlebuses. Some have more time on their hands, or perhaps need to escape stresses at home or work, or have disabilities making more active pursuits difficult.
So how can you tell if you are at risk? David Tunnicliffe advises that if you can’t stop thinking about gambling, and you’re spending money needed for other food, bill and other expenses then you have a problem. Getting into debt and lying about your gambling to family and friends are other signs.
There are many sources of help, including Gambling Help Online, that offer free, confidential help to people affected by gambling in any way.
The number is 1800 858 858.