E10: Tim Costello on the gambling trap

Australians are the biggest gamblers in the world, spending billions each year on weekly lotto, scratchies, poker machines, online sports betting and much more. If you watch television, you will be bombarded by gambling advertising especially during sport.

In this episode, Reverend Tim Costello, gambling reform advocate and former head of World Vision Australia speaks with Lex Marinos who has close family members to have been afflicted by gambling addiction.

Older adults participate in gambling more regularly than other age groups and sometimes they get into severe financial trouble, even addiction. Women are particularly vulnerable, Tim says, often drawn to the sense of community fostered by clubs with free coffee and meal deals. He urges people to find other ways of social connection that are safe from the threat of addiction and financial losses.

Tim Costello believes Australians are blind to the scourge of gambling even though per head we suffer the greatest gambling losses in the world. Each year twenty four billion dollars is lost, and of that fifteen billion comes from poker machines, so easily accessible in pubs and clubs except in Western Australia. Australia also has twenty percent of the world’s pokies!

Governments he says, are now dependent on gambling revenue. State governments have found gambling revenue to be easy money, for example, Victoria gets twelve percent of its revenue from gambling taxes.

Tim Costello reminds us that poker machines are built for addiction. He says there are number of good gambling counselling services to help people with gambling addiction and financial problems. Tim says reach out, there are services to help.

Lifeline explains these are the problem signs:

  • Spending more money and time than you intend to on gambling
  • Feeling guilty and ashamed about your gambling
  • Having arguments with friends or family about your gambling
  • Lying about or stealing to get money for gambling
  • Thinking about gambling every day
  • Trying to win back your losses
  • Missing important things such as work, family time or appointments because of gambling
  • Getting into debt or struggling financially due to gambling

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