Australia’s gambling problem BY Ness

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Australians spend nearly $12 billion a year on poker machines with three quarters of people who have a serious problem with gambling addicted to the pokies. 1 in 6 people who play the pokies regularly has a severe gambling problem and with some poker machines, the ability to play at extremely high intensity and speed means a gambler could lose more than $1,500 in just 1 hour.

Many Australians enjoy an occasional Tats Lotto ticket, a bet on the horses or even the occasional pokies, however for some gambling can be highly addictive and destructive, ruining lives and destroying families across Australia.

With the age bracket of 18-24 years spending the most on poker machines than any other age group, this puts enormous strain on the families and even their friends

The actions of 1 person with a gambling problem has a negative impact on the lives of between 5 and 10 other people that are involved with that person; this means there are up to 5 million Australians who could be affected by problem gambling each year.

People who have a problem with their gambling lose an average of $21,000 a year. That’s a third of the average annual salary, but it’s not just about the money, it’s the harm to themselves and their family.

Problem gamblers suffer mental and physical health problems. Many find it difficult to hold down a job, and struggle to maintain any normal relationships with other people. The emotional cost to their families is too great to measure, so extensive are the impacts that the social cost of problem gambling to the Australian community is estimated to be at least $4.7 billion each year.

Problem gamblers are 4 times more likely to have problems with alcohol and are 4 times as likely to smoke on a daily bases than non- problem gamblers, which then puts even more pressure on the health system when these people need medical attention.

Then you have the problem of the generation cycle, where children with parents who have a problem with gambling are up to 10 times more likely to become problem gamblers than children with non-gambling parents.

But this does not mean it is the end of the road for you if you have a problem with gambling or if someone you know has this problem. Visit Gambling Help Online at gamblinghelponline.org.au, or phone 1800 858 858 for help.

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