Gambling Issues

Online Gambling. So easy to bet. Too easy to lose

You can gamble online any time and anywhere - at home, at work, on your phone when you're out. 

Gambling this way might feel more comfortable and less risky than gambling at a venue. But the fact is, it can be just as easy to spend more time and money than planned.

Even if you only gamble what you can afford, online gambling can affect other parts of your life. Unknowingly, the time spent gambling online can affect your job, your personal relationships with friends and family, and even your health.

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Losing track

It is easy to "zone out" when gambling online. After a while, time and money are gone and we don't really remember how it happened.

Betting with credit or a linked account instead of actual cash can make it feel less real - like it's not even really money we're gambling with.

Being alone means there is no-one to talk down a bigger bet, to remind us to slow down or take a break, or to support us after a loss.

Tips for avoiding problems

  • Set a limit for yourself on how much you will spend.
  • Calculate how long you had to work to earn that money.
  • Use a site that has limits on daily spend.
  • Limit where you bet, don't have multiple accounts.
  • Use a debit card instead of a credit card - this will help you see that it is your income you are spending.
  • Check your player history on the sites you use and/or your bank and credit card statements to keep a clear idea of how much you are spending.
  • Read the fine print on marketing promotions like 'free bets'.
  • And remember, like any form of gambling, online poker, betting and sports wagering is not a good way to make money.

Practice sites

Some sites offer free games so that people can 'practice'. Be aware that the odds on 'practice' games are much better - so it is easier to win than on the paid games. When winning at the practice games don't expect to have the same results in the paid games.

Offers and promotions

Because what you do on websites can be seen and tracked by the website owners - how often you visit, what you spend, how your gambling patterns may change - they can use this information to market to you very effectively. They can send you bonuses and offers to keep you gambling and promotions to come back to their site if you haven't bet in a while.

How problems develop

  • Just filling free time with gambling
  • Continually adding money to one or more online accounts, without making withdrawals
  • A few small bets here and there and then one day it just snowballs
  • Having a win from that first bet and thinking that it's easy money
  • Having an urge to try and get money back
  • Betting without caring about the outcome
  • Winning and then spending it all very quickly

 Signs of a problem

  • Disrupted, or not enough, sleep
  • Debts starting to mount up
  • Not being able to pay bills
  • Bigger bets placed to get the same feeling
  • Betting when you normally wouldn't, like during lunch breaks
  • Missing school or work
  • Thinking about gambling, when doing other things

What you can do if you have a problem?

  • Block yourself from receiving free offers, incentives and other marketing materials from gambling sites.
  • Most reputable sites offer self-exclusion programs
  • Block gambling sites from your computer - you can do this yourself or install software that filters out gambling websites. Asking a trusted support person to set this up for you will help you avoid the temptation to remove the filter
  • Take betting apps off your phone
  • Get help

How do you know a site is safe?

Wagering and sports betting is legal in Australia.  Australians can bet at off shore casinos however it's illegal to provide online casino facilities from Australia.

If you gamble at an offshore site there are fewer regulations and safeguards.

People have won money at off shore sites only to find that their stake was stolen, they never saw their winnings and the site has been shut down.

Go to sites that have some accreditation. This might be from eCOGRA who check the integrity of the provider. 

Your questions

If I use the betting exchange agencies, won't I have a better chance of winning?

The bottom line is that over the long run the operator is always going to win and the punter is always going to lose. Betting exchanges can seem like a good deal. They take a commission on wins and are set up so that punters are betting against each other. But someone always has to lose for every win. Whether you win or lose you are still paying the betting exchange money. That's how they are successful.

I'm the best poker player that I know, I see people on tv making lots of money playing poker professionally, couldn't that be me?

It is true that there is a strong element of skill in poker and some people can manage to play professionally and routinely come out ahead. Professional poker players play online in a very controlled manner and they do not chase their losses or bet more than they can afford. When playing online you are in competition with millions of players around the world who are waiting to take someone else's money. For someone to win, others have to lose.  Even if you do play with perfect strategy, the cards are still chance and even the best players can and do lose.

I want to fix the problem by myself, how can a counsellor help?

A counsellor can be a great support at helping you get motivated to stay on track. They won't judge you or tell you what to do but they will help you work out whether you need to make a change. They can also help with some strategies to quit or cut down and provide some tips for getting through the first few days when the urge is strongest.