26 Jul 21

Man at home with cats | Photo by Carolina Daltoe on Unsplash

Many Australians are currently in lockdown. Some of us are experienced old hands, while others are experiencing long-term lockdowns for the first time. People who are trying to change their gambling might be finding a silver lining: it’s much easier to resist going down to your local when it isn’t open anyway.

A Gambling Help Online forum member first noted this in the lockdowns of 2020: “Yes, this is certainly the biggest self-exclusion that has ever happened.”  They suggested that members could “take it as a helping hand and take time to work out our triggers and reasons for gambling”, and that, “by the time everything reopens, we will be so much stronger.”

Great advice. Many people reportedly took the opportunity to work on their gambling while they were involuntarily excluded anyway. Unfortunately others went back to gambling when the restrictions were lifted. Now they have another opportunity!

There are several positives to this non-voluntary exclusion. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • More money — have you been surprised at how much more money you have?
  • Increased self esteem — do you feel better about yourself when you are not gambling?
  • Time — do you have more time to explore entertaining yourself in a less expensive and destructive manner?

The perils of boredom

The Coronavirus has forced us all to make changes that are unexpected and unwelcome. Not being able to go to the pokies, the TAB or the Casino has left many grappling to fill their time. Normally we’d have a lot of other distractions available outside the home. The lack of options challenges us to find new ways to fill the time now available —  time that we used to spend gambling.  It might be tempting to spend that time gambling online, but it can be fraught with danger and isn’t worth the risk.

It’s important to find constructive ways to spend your time and avoid boredom, which can be a major trigger for people who struggle with gambling. One idea is to explore your neighbourhood on foot — walking is extremely beneficial for your physical and mental health!

Tips and suggestions on how to extend this period of involuntary self exclusion

Now is an ideal time to begin making those changes you have thought about.

Any break from gambling can be built upon. With venues shut your urge to visit and gamble can’t be followed through. It is the perfect time to kickstart all those resolutions about giving up or lessening the amount you gamble.

  • Your bank may be able to put a block on gambling transactions on your accounts. Learn more about which banks offer this service or get in touch with your bank to make a request.
  • Keep up the barriers to returning to gambling by joining an industry self-exclusion program now. These are available for both in-house and online gambling. Call 1800 858 858 to be referred to a self-exclusion program in your state.
  • Check your thoughts — especially the one that asks you to believe that gambling is a way to make money.  Remember: you spend money by gambling. The industry makes money through your gambling! It’s a cliché for a reason: the house always wins.
  • Be clear about why you would like to change and set a goal however small.
  • Note when an urge to gamble strikes you.  Pay attention to your urges. This is the first step to break habitual patterns. This can be done by keeping a gambling diary.  A simple diary looks like this:
    • Day of the week:
    • Situation: (Where was I? Who was I with? What was I doing?)
    • What was I thinking? What was I feeling? 
  • Get support to help you keep to your resolutions by

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