So easy to bet - too easy to lose

You can gamble online any time and anywhere - at home, at work, anywhere you have internet really.

This can mean that online gambling can be quite risky as there is very easy access to gambling and for some people it can get out of hand quite quickly.

It may feel comfortable and less risky than gambling at a venue and the ease and convenience makes it really simple 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.

Losing track

It is easy to "zone out" when gambling online. After a while, your time and money are gone and you may not remember how it happened.

People often say that zoning makes them oblivious to their surroundings, time and responsibilities.

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

If you gamble alone, there is a risk that there is no-one around to help you. Being around people can help to talk down a bigger bet, to remind you to slow down or take a break, or to support us after a loss.

Practice sites

Some sites offer free games so that people can 'practise'. Be aware that these sites are designed to make you think you are really good at the games. They make it easier to win, giving you a false understanding of how easy it may be to win, they are trying to lure you in so that you gamble your money.

When winning at the practice games don't expect to have the same results in the paid games.

Offers and promotions

Once you have used a site, it’s likely they will send you offers and promotions, these are deliberately designed to draw you back to the site so you gamble your money.

These websites track everything you do on the sites including: how often you visit, how much you spend, and how your gambling patterns change. They then use this information to market to you very effectively. They can and will, 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, but remember the house always wins even when they are offering you promotions.

How do you know a site is safe?

It can be difficult to tell if a site is ‘safe’, as the people who create gambling websites can be very technically savvy and they can look exactly like any other site. Remember that all gambling sites are designed to win your money, regardless of whether they are safe or not.

While online wagering and sports betting is legal in Australia. It is illegal to provide online casino facilities from within Australia. Australians can bet at offshore casinos, but they will always be operating from another country.

If you gamble on an offshore website there are fewer regulations and safeguards. People have even won money on offshore sites, only to find that their stake was stolen, they never saw their winnings and the site has later been shut down.

If you would like to read a bit more about internet scams go to MoneySmart, they have a wealth of information and a list of companies to look out for.

Frequently asked 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.  There is no perfect strategy, cards are still a game of 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.