3 Apr 20
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photo of a man and is pet cat by 7seth @ unsplash.com


The ongoing situation around the world has brought several changes to our usual way of life, with the introduction of social distancing and self-isolation, the closure of leisure and entertainment venues, and the cancellation of sporting events. During this time, you might find yourself feeling bored and spending more time at home on your mobile phone, computer, tablet, and/or videogame console.

These devices provide a wide range of benefits as they allow us to stay connected with friends and family and can help us pass the time with access to games, apps, music, videos, and the internet — but it is important to be aware that some of the games, apps, and websites available may involve actual gambling or gambling-like mechanics, and they’re not all safe or well-regulated. These include:

Online casinos

These require people to spend real money on online casino games; however, online casinos have a much higher level of risk than regular casinos, as all online casinos operate from outside of Australia and have fewer protections and safeguards in-place to protect people from losing their money and being scammed. Many users have reported ‘winning’ their game only to find they never receive the prize.

Simulated casino and poker machine games and apps

These allow people to play digital poker machines and other casino games using virtual currency. They will often be advertised as free-to-play; however, players will often need to regularly spend real money in order to purchase the virtual currency and play for extended periods of time.

Videogames and apps that involve loot-box or Gacha (also known as ‘summoning’) mechanics

These videogames and apps contain mechanics that are similar to gambling, as they encourage players to regularly spend real money to obtain random in-game items and/or characters that are required in order for them to progress further in the game. These gambling-like mechanics can be found in several different types of game including casual games, role-playing games, sports games, kart-racing games, and shooter games.

If you find yourself using these games, apps, and/or websites, have a think about whether the amount of time and money you have spent on them has increased since you first started. It might also be useful to think about whether you have spent more since the closure of gambling venues and cancellation of sporting events, as you may find that you have substituted one form of gambling for another.

If you’re looking for different ways to spend your time, Gambling Help Online regularly share ideas on our Facebook. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Puzzles: It might seem old-fashioned, but puzzles are a great way to absorb not only your mind but your hands, and they can be a great activity to bring together members of your household of all ages. If you’re not into the puzzles, how about investing in a particularly difficult LEGO set?

  • Cross-stitch: Buy a kit online and get stitching. Like puzzles, cross-stitch absorbs all your attention by engaging both your mind and your hands. It might look complicated, but YouTube is full of easy tutorials to help you get started.

  • Take in some culture: Many artists and cultural organisations have launched free livestreams to help keep people engaged with the arts while self-isolating. The Guardian Australia is keeping a useful list.

  • Foster a pet: If you’re in a position to give an animal a safe and stable place to live until they find your forever home, this is a great time to foster a pet — especially if you live alone. Learn more from Pet Rescue.

  • Work out: A lot of gyms and personal trainers are offering streaming workouts that you can do in the safety of your own home. Broadsheet has some recommendations.

You might also want to consider using this time to get on top of your gambling, as reduced access to gambling can help with reducing your triggers and urges.

If you are in any way concerned about your own or another person’s spending on games, apps, and/or websites, consider contacting the 24/7 Gambling Helpline 1800 858 858 and talking with a gambling counsellor for support and advice.

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