Australia loves winning gold medals. We love our champions and equally love it when we “punch above our weight”. But there is a series of gold medals that Australia doesn’t hold proudly. As a nation, we are leading the world in our gambling addiction. Now dear reader, before I lose you, this is not a sermon from the pulpit, or a cry for more nanny state banning laws, this is about Australians facing a painful reality.
We have an addiction problem. It is a problem that has flown under the radar for many decades because to have a punt is seen by many to be Australian. It is in our psyche. We love our footy, our sport, our pubs and clubs. Some like to have a flutter on the horses while some might limit their gambling to the Melbourne Cup or a lottery ticket. Gambling is all-pervasive. We cannot watch any sports event on television without having a gambling ad touting the odds, blasted at every interval. Considering that the AFL, NRL and Cricket Australia are all sponsored by gambling companies, the Australian sports fan doesn’t stand a chance. However, to many, there is a personal, family and social cost.
As a country, we hold 0.3% of the world’s population, yet Australia has 76% of the world’s poker machines outside of gambling-only venues.
Australian gamblers lost AU$24 billion in 2017 of which poker machine losses contributed $12 billion. As a nation, in 2016-17, we bet $209 billion, which is an average of $11,000 per adult.
According to The Economist, gambling losses per adult in 2017 ($1,076) were 40% higher than in the next highest country, Singapore. In NSW and Victoria, each poker machine gambler loses on average $3,500 per year in pubs and clubs alone.
Australians are hooked. The gambling companies are the dealers, the government, taking their cut of the purse is the stand-over guy, while the punter (in order to feed their addiction) keeps coming back for more. So, what is the social cost? In 2017, it was estimated that 3,350 Victorians were made homeless by gambling problems. In Victorian mental health centres, it was found that 31% of problem gamblers experienced depression. Over four years, coroners linked 68 Victorian suicides to problems with poker machines.
The Executive Director of Clubs Australia in 2009, Anthony Ball, argued that governments have a duty of care for the 1% of Australians who gamble irresponsibly. However, the Productivity Commission states that problem-gambling prevalence is closer to 15% while the “at-risk” group is double that figure.
From personal experience, I understand the pain that families suffer when a parent has a gambling problem. My dad was an SP bookie who was always having a punt. He would come home with a new car, attributing his latest trophy to a racehorse that he backed. He was generous with his winnings. But a gambler doesn’t want to talk about the losses. We lost a Merewether Beach family home that had to be sold to pay gambling debts. The next card to fall was the family business. And I’m sure this was all a contributor to mum and dad separating.
As a hypnotherapist, I’ve had many problem gamblers as clients who are seeing me as a “last throw of the dice”. They have lost their money, their home and their business, and if they haven’t lost their family, they know that if they don’t put the gambling addiction into the past now, then they will be on their own. Client A was a pensioner who spent most of her days at the local club playing poker machines. No-one knew that she only ate one meal a day and some weeks she would go hungry waiting for pension day. Client B told me that he knew that he had lost $300,000 in the last 12 months as he had sold a house, and there was nothing left.
“If you want to change, but you’re not prepared to put in the effort … it is like waiting at an airport for a ship.”
If you have a gambling problem and you really want to do something about it, please contact someone who can help. This is about putting up the hand and saying enough is enough. You can still be Australian and hang out with the mates… and not have a punt. Back yourself!
Are you ready to rebuild your future? Brett at Cameron Hypnotics has created a 3 Session Gambling Buster Hypnotherapy program for $450. You might also want to check the range of self-hypnosis MP3s on Spotify and iTunes by searching Cameron Hypnotics. For more information, visit www.cameronhypnotics.com.au