This blog originally appeared in Counsellor Sam and has been republished with permission.
Online gambling increased under the uncertainty and boredom of COVID-19 restrictions. As restrictions ease however, the temptation to gamble online will not necessarily ease alongside them. Sports codes are back in play across the country as well as the other gambling options offered during the lockdown, but our financial, social and emotional anxieties remain. Alongside the potentially thrilling distraction of online gambling comes great risk.
1. Online gambling is not a fair game in many ways.
Dodgy operators whose sites may look and feel legitimate operate online. They’re usually based overseas, outside the jurisdiction of Australian laws and consumer protections. Although at least 52 of these sites have been blocked under new laws since November 2019, many new sites continue to appear and are especially targeted to Australians.
On these black-market sites, you’re likely to get ripped off. If you win, you’ll likely never see your winnings. The site may disappear with your money or steal from your bank accounts. Unfortunately, you might not realise the site is dodgy until it’s too late.
These sites are the gambling equivalent of free solo climbing — scaling up a cliff-face without a rope. Information on protecting yourself from illegal online gambling sites is available from ACMA.
2. The odds are against you.
Although online gambling providers sell themselves as an easy way to make money, a bit of harmless fun, like any form of gambling, the house always wins. The system is set up to make the owners money. They will always take their percentages and the balance is shared between the players.
3. Your phone — a ‘casino in your pocket’?
The average online gambler has five gambling apps on their phone. It’s important to consider how dangerous it is to have such easy access 24/7. With the new socially-distant lifestyles most of us are still observing under COVID, getting into the gambling Zone has never been easier or riskier. Over the course of an idle evening, money can leave your credit or debit card with such ease. Too often Gambling Help counsellors hear the story of people taking out the allowed $10000 from their superannuation and losing it within days.
If you’ve taken up online gambling to relieve boredom, stress, or in an attempt to improve your financial position, consider the alternatives before putting yourself and your finances at risk.
If you need some ideas about how to get started on working on your finances, mental health, or just want to chat, we can help. Get in touch with a trained counsellor on 1800 858 858 or chat to us online.