A large spike in online gambling has experts at The Alfred concerned that many problem gamblers are avoiding seeking help and are suffering in silence.
Dr Rebecca Hope from the Alfred Mental Health and Gambling Harm Program said that gambling numbers rose by 60 per cent during last year’s lockdown, despite the closure of casinos.
“The industry is shifting the focus to target online gambling, which is mainly young men, and even teens doing online gaming with things like loot boxes and tradable commodities,” Dr Hope said.
“It’s common for people to not realise they have a problem... they hide it, deny it to themselves and it’s often not until it gets to a crisis situation that they seek help,” she said.
“It becomes secret and shame of losing significant amounts of money – particularly if that money is coming from family funds or is stolen.
Dr Hope said the stigma around problem gambling can often prevent people seeking help or even realising they have a problem.
“It’s a really cruel cycle people go through, thinking their next gamble will fix all their financial issues, then they have a loss, that sense of despair, and then their mind goes to next gamble.”
“But Gamblers Help is a great service and should be the first port of call for anyone who thinks they might have an issue.
“They offer therapy counseling and psychological support as well as tools to exclude yourself from gambling apps and help avoiding triggers.
“Those around the person, whether it be family or carers also have a big role to play in understanding the issue and offering support.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit: https://gamblershelp.com.au/