IN order to raise awareness about the social impact of problem gambling, the State Government awarded grants of more than $100,000 to both Linkwest and 360 Health and Community as part of its Beyond Gambling Grants Program.
Racing and Gaming Minister Colin Holt said the initiatives proposed by the two organisations would strengthen the capacity of local groups to fully appreciate the risks of problem gambling in their communities.
�The programs that are being funded will also give alternative options to those who might be at risk of developing a problem gambling habit,� he said.
The Gazette spoke to both organisations to find out how they plan to tackle problem gambling.
360 HEALTH AND COMMUNITY
360 Health and Community is a not-for-profit organisation which provides programs in physical
and mental health.
With the funding they intend to deliver one-on-one counselling to people assessed as being problem gamblers or at risk of becoming problem gamblers.
They estimate that they will deliver the service to 200 clients.
360 Health and Community mental health coordinator Tristan Mitsopoulos said the challenge for people who gamble was identifying when it has become a problem.
�Problem gamblers usually find themselves facing debt and financial hardship and this can have interpersonal consequences such as neglect of family and relationship breakdowns,� he said.
It could also create legal consequences where gamblers resort to the use of loan sharks, theft or other crimes to support their gambling behaviours.
Mr Mitsopoulos said the program would create community awareness of the indicators and effects of problem gambling with the hope that intervention could occur before gambling becomes a problem for someone.
�Our services will not just cater to people who already have developed problem gambling behaviours,� he said.
�They are very relevant to people who are concerned that their gambling may be a problem, or to people who are at risk of developing gambling problems.�
Linkwest is a body for community, neighbourhood and learning centres in Western Australia.
It offers training and support to those working in small, community-managed not-for-profits.
Chief executive Jane Chilcott said there was concern about the grooming of children with gaming and non-financial gambling games through social media and other children’s online games.
She said there was also concern around gambling associated with particular local successful sporting teams.
�The concern about adults gambling is the rise of advertising during sporting events on the TV and how it is constantly promoted during the games, that it is possible to bet during games and how easy it is to bet using apps on mobile
phones,� she said.
�Gambling is becoming normalised and the temptation to gamble is constantly dangled in front of someone watching a game.�
Linkwest will use the grant to run a program in eight communities in WA over a one-year period.
The program is made up of three parts: mythbusting and awareness-raising, workshops, and activities in local community organisations that will directly help those with concerns.
Each of the community organisations will be helped to set up a gambling support group.
In addition, Ms Chilcott said, WA needs to watch gambling advertising very carefully.
�It may be that as a society we will have to treat it in the same way we now treat alcohol advertising and sponsorship around sporting events.�