Identifying problem gambling

Problem gambling occurs when people have difficulty limiting the amount of money and time they spend gambling. This can harm the individual, their family and friends, and the wider community.

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

Signs of problem gambling

Possible visible signs to staff in gaming areas include:

  • distressed, irritated or depressed behaviour in gaming room e.g. shaking, swearing to themselves or crying after a loss
  • a noticeable decline in personal grooming and appearance over several days
  • aggressive behaviour towards staff and other patrons e.g. blaming others for losses or becoming angry if someone takes their spot in the venue
  • an obsessive need for 'lucky' items or a favourite machine e.g. nervously fiddling with 'lucky' items while playing and stalking a particular machine
  • asking venue staff not to tell others they are there and/or avoiding contact with others
  • bragging about how skilful they are at gambling and bragging about winning
  • spending more than $300 in one gambling session
  • showing a significant increase in spending
  • repeatedly withdrawing money from the ATM
  • requesting credit or asking to borrow money from the venue or from other patrons
  • starting to gamble when the venue opens and only stopping when the venue is closing.

Video transcript

Risks of gaming venue staff experiencing problem gambling

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

Research has found that employees with gambling problems are less supportive of responsible gambling measures.

Understanding this may help prevent you from developing a gambling problem and help you recognise the importance of responsible gambling measures.

Friends and family of problem gamblers

When gambling becomes a problem for an individual it can adversely affect the person's family, social circles and the wider community. Support is available to anyone who is directly or indirectly impacted by gambling-related problems.

Possible signs that family and friends may observe include:

  • being preoccupied with and prioritising gambling over family and social obligations
  • repeatedly trying to control, cut back, or stop gambling unsuccessfully
  • gambling as a way of escaping from problems or relief from feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety and depression
  • committing illegal acts such as forgery, fraud and 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 conceal the extent of their involvement in gambling.

If you notice that you, a patron or another staff member are experiencing gambling-related problems, follow the relevant policies and procedures of your venue to deal with the situation appropriately.

Free counselling, support and advice is available to anyone impacted by gambling-related problems.

Signs of responsible gambling

People who gamble without it negatively impacting their life 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.

Video transcript

Also consider...