SPECIAL REPORT: Gambling rates not in favour of young and vulnerable during COVID-19

Anglicare Victoria (AV) has one of the largest financial counselling teams in Victoria, helping people recover from the financial impacts of bushfires, and get back on their feet after the impacts of COVID-19. Our dedicated Gambler’s Help team of financial and therapeutic counsellors, community educators, and venue support workers play an important role in helping people impacted by gambling harm.

The risks of gambling are well known, with the potential for gambling to lead to debt, self-isolating behaviours and in some instances, crime. Those who experience serious financial losses and continue to gamble are likely to confront relationship breakdowns, job losses and mental health problems. The financial stress created by gambling is also associated with exacerbating levels of family violence.

Gambling problems occur on a spectrum, and many people – not just ‘problem gamblers’ – experience problems from gambling losses. AV’s financial counsellors consistently note that it is vulnerable people on low incomes who tend to suffer the most harm from gambling.  A study for AV found that young people were between two and four times more likely to be problem gamblers than adults.[1]

COVID-19 and gambling

The Australian Gambling Research Centre published a survey of more than 2000 people in October 2020 that looked at gambling behaviour during the pandemic[2]. Survey participants self-identified as gamblers.

It found that almost four in every five people (79 per cent) were already experiencing or were at risk of gambling-related harm. The highest risk group was young men aged 18-34, who were the most likely to sign up for new online betting accounts, increase the frequency and monthly spend on gambling, and be at risk of harm.

AV’s team of experienced financial and therapeutic counsellors help clients who are already suffering harm from gambling. As with many other areas of social services, early intervention is the most effective way to prevent serious harm – rather than after the damage has been done.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with gambling, help is available by phoning 1800 244 323, or visit gamblershelp.com.au

[1] S Sieglff, Exploring the nature of gambling for young people living in rural communities, Anglicare Victoria, June 2017. Report available at https://www.anglicarevic.org.au/research/gambling-and-young-people-report/

[2] R Jenkinson, K Sakata, T Khokhar, R Tajin and U Jatkar, Gambling in Australia during COVID-19, Australian Gambling Research Centre, Australian Institute of Family Studies, October 2020

Back to news