This is an active time of year for sports fans, but it can be difficult if you love sports but are trying to change your gambling habits. Sports betting is a big industry in this country, with many large companies battling for consumer loyalty. That means that we are constantly exposed to advertisements. Some people might be able to tune out the advertising altogether, but for many of us, it isn’t that simple.
Gambling Help Online counsellor David has been researching the experiences of online sports betters and wants you to know that if you struggle with the deluge of ads, you are not alone. It might be helpful to stop and think about the messages the ads are sending and whether they match up with your lived experience.
MYTH: Most sports betting advertisements are targeted towards young men, and weave an attractive image of gambling as a social activity – something a happy young gambler does with his mates in a fun social setting.
FACT: David’s research suggests that many people who participate in online sports-betting are isolated and secretive with their gambling, making bets alone in an empty meeting room at work or in the toilets while they’re out with their family. Far from helping them bond with the people around them, they start to feel increasingly alone.
MYTH: Ads make it seem like sports are only enjoyable if you can gamble on them.
FACT: Australians didn’t always bet as much as we do now, but we always loved sports! If you go back and watch classic sports matches from the 1970s and 80s, you’ll probably be shocked at how little anybody talks about betting. If you’re watching sports with a group of people, try to lead the discussion towards the talent of the athletes or the strength of the teamwork, not on a detailed analysis of the odds.
If you feel like you can’t enjoy sports without wanting to gamble, it’s totally fine to avoid them for a while! Find yourself a buddy who’s not into competitive sports — there are millions of them, even in Australia — and ask them to do something fun with you on big days in the sporting calendar. Grand final day can actually be a great day to go to the movies, visit a tourist attraction or get some shopping done because you don’t have to fight the crowds!
MYTH: It’s shameful to struggle to control your gambling, and it’s best to keep it a secret and deal with it alone.
FACT: You are not alone. What you are going through is very common, particularly in Australia, where complex social, cultural, psychological and neurological factors combine to help us lose more money to gambling than any other nation in the world.
David’s research suggests that being secretive about your problems can create a shame spiral that leads inevitably to repeating gambling practices that are causing you distress. A great way to interrupt this cycle is to reach out and tell somebody, whether a trusted friend or one of our trained counsellors.
This grand final day, or any day, Gambling Help Online is here for you.