Partners in Christian Mission

February/March 2021

February/March 2021

GAMBLING: For Your Church Bulletin

monthly byte:

Gambling Harm

Gambling - the sure way of getting nothing for something

"Gambling harm encompasses everything from the loss of homes and relationships
to the loss of lives through deaths by suicide associated with gambling harm."
Rev Tim Costello December 2019

2018 - 2019 Australian Social Statistics

In 2018 - 2019: Cost of problem gambling in Australia totalled $7 billion
  • $2.2 billion - Family and relationship problems.
  • $1.6 billion - Emotional / psychological issues, including distress, depression suicide / violence.
  • $1.3 billion - Financial losses.
  • $1.1 billion - Spent on research, regulation and professional support services.
  • $600 million - Lost productivity and other work-related costs.
  • $100 million - Costs of crime.

Tasmanians lost approximately $180 million on Poker Machines.

Online Gaming / Gambling

Online gambling has increased significantly with the use of mobile devices

  • Online access to gambling can get out of hand quite quickly.
  • Ease and convenience makes it really simple to spend more time and money than planned.
  • Unknowingly spending more time gambling online can affect peoples' job, personal relationships and health.
  • People often lose track of time, surroundings and responsibilities.
  • Using credit or a linked account instead of actual cash can make it feel less real.
  • It's becoming increasingly easy to gamble secretly on mobile phones.
  • Data suggests mobile gaming and gambling is becoming a more common social past time with young men in their work breaks.

Whole of population online gambling INCREASED to 8.2% in 2018 vs 3.9% in 2017.

Whole of population betting on horses or greyhound races INCREASED to 3.3% in 2018 vs 1.9% in 2017.

Whole of population buying lottery tickets INCREASED to 4.2% in 2018 vs 1.4% in 2017.

How Gamblers experience harm
  • Gambling as an addiction - addiction can be described as a complex disease. It is defined as the "state of periodic or chromic intoxication detrimental to the individual and society, which is characterised by an overwhelming desire to continue taking the drug and to obtain it by any means. Accordingly, addiction is characterised as compulsive, at times uncontrollable, drug craving, seeking and use that persists even in the face of extremely negative consequences". (Drugs and Society; Hanson, Glen R, Venturelli, Peter J. and Fleckenstein, Annette E., 12th edition)
  • Gambling increases the chances of encountering other life issues
    • 96.3% of people experiencing gambling stress also had 1 or more criteria for other mental health issues.
    • 75% of those identified as being under gambling stress also had a co-occurring alcohol use issue.
    • 40% of those identified as being under gambling stress also had a co-occurring drug use issue. Data suggests people will seek help for a drug use issue BEFORE they seek treatment for gambling related harm.
How do we know when people are experiencing gambling harm?
  • Early Warning Signs
    • Missing work or having trouble concentrating at work
    • Increasing levels of debt
    • Struggling to pay bills on time
    • Lying to friends and family
    • Prioritising spending time and money on gambling over other activities
    • Feeling moody, irritable or angry
    • Inability to pay for small luxuries
  • Serious Warning Signs
    • Financial harm - inability to pay for essentials
    • Criminal activity - stealing or fraud
    • Declining mental health - depression, anxiety or suicide
    • Relationship disruption, conflict or breakdown
    • Reduced performance at work or study
    • Cultural harm - disengaging from cultural activities
    • Declining physical health
How to respond
  • Equip yourself with knowledge of "what's out there"- anyone in the community can provide referral information about counselling and other assistance offered by Gamblers Help. Providing info about self help resources can be a good way to help people get started. These resources include guidance around goal setting and finding circuit breakers to assist in curbing gambling urges.
  • Communicate with care and sensitivity - The shame and stigma of gambling harm means talking about gambling can be very hard for people struggling with the issue.
  • Use non-judgemental communication - Listen and help people identify their own solutions and help them to implement them, rather than providing advice.
  • Encouragement and support - people experiencing gambling harm often find a way to stop gambling or get it under control. This change can include the removal or reduction of stresses that contributed to the gambling in the first place. Support from family, friends and professional services and sometimes through being excluded from gambling venues, can all assist people experiencing gambling harm.


1. Background Information: For your Church bulletin

2. Videos and Fact Sheets: options to use personally, in small groups or in a service

3. Prayers: options to use in services

4. Actions: practical steps ranging from easier to more challenging

The Tasmanian Baptist Social Justice Task Force meets regularly to help our Bapitst churches engage with the key social justice issues of our time.
The Monthly Byte is published regularly by them to provide information, resources and inspiration to get you moving!

To find out more or join the group, please contact Jo Sinclair.


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