25 September 2023

Gambling watchdogs put cards on the table

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The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission has joined with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to encourage community discussion of gambling harm.

Campaigning under the themes Gambling Harm: Don’t Play it Down and Talk. Share. Support, the jurisdictions are marking this week as Gambling Harm Awareness Week, urging citizens to learn about what is often a hidden and a highly stigmatised issue.

Chair of the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission, Paul Baxter said that while harm from gambling might seem small initially – niggling feelings of guilt for prioritising a gambling activity over spending time with family, for example – they could escalate quickly.

“Gambling harm can take hold a lot earlier than people realise, so during Gambling Harm Awareness Week we highlight the importance of paying attention to those little alarm bells and acting on them early, rather than playing them down,” Mr Baxter said.

“Talking and listening are key to the success of any prevention, early intervention or treatment and support strategy to reduce gambling harm.”

He said all members of the community had a role in destigmatising what was a very real and significant issue for some people in their lives and communities – family, friends, workmates, neighbours, acquaintances and others.

“We recognise the importance of working together across jurisdictions and we are committed to help reduce gambling harm in our communities,” Mr Baxter said.

Chair of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Board, Julie Ligeti said community conversations were central to raising awareness about the early signs of gambling harm and empowering those affected to seek assistance.

“The most obvious form of gambling harm is financial, but people experience harm in a variety of ways that can have a substantial impact on, for example, their self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance and social life,” Ms Ligeti said.

She said embarrassment and shame were common responses to gambling harm that could act as a barrier to dealing with it, so it was critical to ensure that people affected knew they were not alone and that a range of support was available.

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