Identifying the signs of gambling harm

Gambling can cause harm to individuals, their family and friends and the wider community. Gambling harm can occur when people have difficulty limiting the amount of money and time they spend gambling. It can be hard to detect.

As an employee of a gaming venue, you know the popular machines, the regular patrons and their behaviour. You play an important role in observing, monitoring and communicating with your patrons to minimise the potential for gambling-related harm.

Signs of gambling harm

You might see these signs of gambling harm in your patrons:

  • a distressed, irritated or depressed mood, for example, shaking, swearing or crying after a loss
  • a noticeable decline in personal grooming and appearance over several days
  • aggressive behaviour towards staff and other patrons, for example, blaming others for losses or becoming angry if someone takes their spot
  • obsession with 'lucky' items
  • stalking a favourite machine
  • asking staff not to tell others they're there and/or avoiding contact with others
  • bragging about how skilful they are at gambling and bragging about winning
  • spending more than they can afford in a gambling session or showing a significant increase in spending
  • repeatedly withdrawing money from the ATM, requesting credit or asking to borrow money
  • starting to gamble when the venue opens and only stopping when the venue is closing.

Family and friends might see these signs of gambling harm in someone they care about:

  • being preoccupied with and prioritising gambling over family and social obligations
  • unsuccessfully trying to control, cut back or stop gambling
  • gambling as a way of escaping problems or as relief from feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety and depression
  • committing illegal acts, such as forgery, fraud or theft to fund gambling
  • using family finances to fund gambling activities
  • jeopardising or losing a significant relationship, job or career opportunity because of gambling
  • lying to hide the amount of gambling.

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Risks of staff experiencing gambling harm

Australian gambling industry employees are 10 times more likely to experience gambling harm than the general population. The most likely theory is over exposure—people who spend a lot of time in situations involving gambling are more at risk.

Research has found that employees who gamble unsafely are less supportive of safer gambling measures.

Understanding this may:

  • help prevent you or your colleagues from experiencing the negative consequences of gambling
  • help you recognise the importance of gambling safely.

If you or someone you know is showing the signs of gambling harm, you can contact your local Gambling Help Queensland service for free and confidential support.

Signs of gambling safely

People who gamble without it negatively impacting their lives generally:

  • think of gambling as entertainment, not a way to make money
  • only gamble with money they can afford to lose
  • set a spending limit in advance
  • give themselves a time limit and stick to it
  • take breaks
  • don't gamble when depressed or upset
  • balance gambling with other activities
  • never chase losses
  • don't take ATM cards with them when gambling
  • don't drink or use drugs when gambling.

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Support for people experiencing gambling harm

For signs of immediate harm or danger call 000.

Crisis support is also available through Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you're worried about your gambling—or someone else's—free and confidential help is available through:

  • Gambling Help Queensland—available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • The Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858—available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Gambling Help Online—providing professional online chat counselling and email support.

Find out more about counselling, support and advice for gambling harm.

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