When gambling becomes a problem

There are many social side effects associated with gambling, including domestic violence, increased use of drugs and alcohol, and risk of crime. Stock picture
There are many social side effects associated with gambling, including domestic violence, increased use of drugs and alcohol, and risk of crime. Stock picture

SOME 70 per cent of Australians participated in some form of gambling in 2009 and in 2008-09 about $12 billion was spent playing the pokies, according to the Federal Government�s online resource Problem Gambling.

Centrecare is a not-for-profit, community services organisation that provides services for people with gambling problems and their families.

Centrecare executive manager of counselling services Rod West said there were many social side effects associated with gambling, including domestic violence, increased use of drugs and alcohol, and risk of crime.

Crown is one of Australia�s largest entertainment groups and owns and operates Crown Perth Entertainment Complex, which is home to hotels several bars and restaurants and a nightclub.

The entertainment hub is central in Burswood and accessible by public transport.

Crown also has a portfolio of other gaming investments and according to its financial report, Crown Resorts made a $655,763,000 net profit after tax in the financial year ending June 2014.

Within the entertainment hub is Crown Casino, with more than 240 table games and 2500 electronic games.

When asked if there was financial data available just for Crown Casino Perth, Crown Perth declined to comment.

According to the Australian Government�s Productivity Commission Report 1999, there is evidence of domestic violence associated with problem gambling, including problem gamblers physically abusing their partners to gain financial benefits.

Mr West said people could develop gambling problems for a whole host of reasons and for each problem gambler, there were five to 10 other people negatively impacted.

�Often people who develop a problem with gambling are experiencing other issues in their lives,� he said.

�These other issues contribute to putting them at risk of developing a problem.�

He said some predisposing factors leading to problem gamblers included a chaotic childhood with high levels of conflict and unpredictability, and issues of mental health, grief, loss, trauma and abuse.

He said there was a need for greater awareness raising campaigns and preventative education programs across the community.

�More thought and research needs to be undertaken to understand the prevalence and impact of online gambling / sports betting in the WA community,� he said.

Centrecare�s services for problem gamblers

-Centrecare has been providing the Gambling Help WA program for 20 years and continues to see this as a growing issue in the community that requires strategic planning and ongoing funding to educate and prevent the issue impacting negatively on individuals, families and the community.

-Centrecare provides face to face counselling for individuals, couples and families in relation to problem gambling and also runs a group program for people with problem gambling behaviours.

-It also has specialist problem gambling financial counsellors who work in with individuals and their families to address the financial impacts and reduce the harm of their problem gambling.

-Centrecare sees about 500 new problem gambling clients each year and provides about 1500 counselling sessions.

Safeguards at Crown

Crown Perth has a responsible service of gambling certificate and has programs, information, assistance and services to provide the community with information and assistance to deal with problem gambling.

According to its website, Crown Perth recognises that what is generally regarded as a fun activity can lead to problems for some people.

To reduce the potential of harmful impact from problem gambling, Crown Perth established policies and guidelines related to responsible gambling, which include problem gambling, underage gambling, responsible marketing, and advertising and responsible service of alcohol.

It said warning signs of problem gambling can include a strong, seemingly uncontrollable urge to gamble, continuing to gamble to recoup losses and lying to family members, friends or employers to conceal involvement with gambling.

Crown Perth also offers a self-exclusion program where people can request to be excluded from entering the casino.

The Responsible Gambling Information Centre is open 24 hours a day seven days per week.

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