Problem gambling: more than a financial issue

An estimated five million Australians are impacted by Problem Gambling* and one in six people who play the pokies regularly has a serious addiction. **

Problem gambling impacts not only the gambler but also their families and their relationships.

In the Logan and Beaudesert areas, YFS offers a financial counselling service for people affected by gambling problems, including family members. It’s a free, independent and confidential service.

YFS Problem Gambling financial counsellors work with people who are in financial difficulty caused by gambling including sports betting, poker machines, scratchies, or lotto tickets.

They develop strategies to help them understand their financial situation, protect their funds and regain a sense of control over their money and their lives.

According to the Queensland Household Gambling Survey 2011-12, 40% of people with a gambling problem in Queensland wanted help but only 17% sought it. The main reason they eventually sough help was due to financial demands.

Mother of three Rita* is an example. Last year, she came to YFS seeking for help for her partner who had been dealing with gambling issues for more than 10 years. Rita says she was struggling to manage and keep her family together.

“We were having really hard times because of his gambling addiction,” she said. “He just kept avoiding me and the kids all the time”.

Rita’s partner is 53 years old. He used to gamble on scratch cards, lottery tickets, online and especially slot machines. “He couldn’t control himself. He would get onto any money or household item. Things have changed after he started talking to his counsellor and we sit in a better place now”, she said.

YFS Problem gambling financial counsellor, Mark Bates says gambling is an addictive behaviour as much as anything else, and people will always be in denial about that addiction.

“Problem gambling is seen as something embarrassing. It is often hidden and people refuse to acknowledge they have a gambling issue”, Mr Bates said.

“Different people will gamble for different reasons. A person can take $50 for pokies every Friday; that’s their choice of entertainment. They don’t see it as an issue; but it can be a big issue for their family.”

“At YFS we work closely with people, providing them information, setting goals, developing budgets and sorting out immediate financial problems. We work with our clients to help them develop some basic tools that they can use to limit the opportunities to gamble and the amounts they can gamble”

“We help people understand the consequences of gambling and what they can actually lose. It’s a matter of reassuring them that a line has been drawn and it’s also about building confidence in the community” he said.

If you know someone that could have a financial problem caused by gambling, a family member who needs help, or would like to find out more about the service, call YFS on (07) 3826 1500 or visit our website www.yfs.org.au

Sources:
* http://www.problemgambling.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Families-Friends-Resource-Designed-FINAL-120703.pdf
** http://www.problemgambling.gov.au/facts/