What best describes your circumstances

Is gambling taking over your life and your finances?

You are not alone.

Problem gambling is a significant public health issue in Australia, with over 2.5% of the population experiencing moderate to severe problems. That, is 586,652 other Australians are also experiencing the detrimental health, social and financial effects of problem gambling.

If you are reading this, then chances are you have been thinking about cutting down on gambling for a while. You've probably even tried it a few times, thinking "I should be able to do this" or "If I just get this jackpot I'll stop". Since we are throwing around statistics, you might like to know that now you are in the 10% of people who are sick of having their lives dictated by gambling and are seeking help. You shouldn't be ashamed of this.

People with gambling problems will often attempt to hide their gambling problem – even from themselves – to avoid feeling shame and stigma. They are often reluctant to seek help because they fear exposure. They fear that other people will find out they are receiving problem gambling counselling, they fear other people will label them a ‘problem gambler’ and they fear the consequences of family and friends finding out that they have a gambling problem.

Your UCMH counsellor will never tell you what to do or make moral judgements about your values, choices and lifestyle. Rather, your counsellor will respectfully guide you to understand the problem and gradually master it so that you can lead a more fulfilling lifestyle, feel better about yourself, share better relationships and enjoy financial stability.

Counselling can help you cut down or stop gambling by examining:

  • the urges and triggers that get you to gamble
  • your beliefs about gambling and why you gamble
  • the kind of changes you want to make, e.g. reducing your gambling or quitting altogether
  • the kind of life you want to build
  • the kind of person you aspire to be in order to build the life you want
  • the blocks that stop you from becoming the person you aspire to be, e.g. fear
  • the skills and knowledge necessary to reduce the negative impact of gambling on your family, relationships, health and employment.

What does counselling look like?

Most gambling interventions take between 6 to 8 sessions to complete and sessions usually take 50 minutes. Counselling is tailored to your needs, so sessions may be weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Weekly sessions are recommended initially but sessions can become less regular as counselling progresses. 

Are you also having trouble paying bills or loans?

It's really easy to do when gambling gets out of hand. That's why we also provide a financial counselling service that specialises in helping people who have accumulated debts because of gambling. This is also a free service and is focused solely on helping you get your finances back on track. Just ask about this when making an appointment.

Are you concerned about a loved one's gambling?

It is not easy to spot a person who has a problem with gambling. Sometimes by the time anyone realises there is a problem, the gambler has already reached a stage of financial or other crisis.

Below is a list of signs that someone close to you may be experiencing problems with gambling:

  • being preoccupied with gambling (e.g. preoccupied with reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next venture or thinking of ways to get money to gamble with)
  • needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement
  • lying to family members or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
  • experiencing repeated unsuccessful efforts to limit, control, cut back or stop gambling
  • being restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
  • using gambling as a way of escaping from problems or relieving negative feelings (e.g. feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)
  • returning to the venue to chase losses, i.e. trying to win the money back
  • committing illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement to finance gambling
  • jeopardising or losing a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of gambling
  • relying on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.

Family and loved ones of gamblers can also experience considerable suffering because of gambling. Trust is often undermined when family members find out that secrets have been kept or promises have been broken. Conflict can arise as a result of the gambling and resentments about financial losses and past behaviour can accumulate. Family and friends can be confused about how to help and may feel hopeless and powerless in the face of the gambling.

If you are a family member of a gambler, gambling help counselling can assist you by:

  • helping you to cope with the feelings and hardships you are experiencing
  • encouraging you to take steps to protect your finances and look after yourself
  • teaching you how to communicate with your loved one about their gambling problem
  • discussing ways of supporting your loved one on their recovery journey.

Are you also having trouble paying bills or loans?

It can happen so easily when somebody's gambling gets out of hand. That's why we also provide a financial counselling service that specialises in helping people who have accumulated debts because of gambling. This is a free service and is focused solely on helping you get your finances back on track. We can also link you to legal advice to help protect your assets. Just ask about this when making an appointment.

Are you losing more than you used to and you're not sure why?

Gambling is a recreational activity that is often done in the company of friends or at a social event. However, over time, some people start to gamble more than just recreationally. This transition occurs slowly and the move from being a recreational gambler to a heavy gambler happens almost without awareness. If you find that you are losing more than you used to or are gambling more often or for longer periods of time, it might be time to ask yourself a few questions about your gambling. 

  • Do you bet more than you can afford to lose? 
  • Do you gamble by yourself rather than with friends?
  • Do you plan your gambling sessions rather than spontaneously going for entertainment? 
  • Do you hide your gambling from others? 
  • Do you try to win back your losses? 

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you may need some help in managing your gambling. 

Our gambling help counsellors can show you how it is possible to move so easily from recreational to heavy gambling. We will explain what gets you to the venue and what keeps you there and look at how this change happened for you.

You have nothing to lose by seeking help and you can be assured that the majority of people who seek help in managing their gambling do benefit significantly from the process. 

Are you also having trouble paying bills or loans?

It's really easy to do when gambling gets out of hand. That's why we also provide a financial counselling service that specialises in helping people who have accumulated debts because of gambling. This is also a free service and is focused solely on helping you get your finances back on track. Just ask about this when making an appointment.

 

Seeking Help for Gambling Concerns

Problem gambling is a highly complex and diverse phenomenon that profoundly affects families and communities as well as gamblers themselves. Seeking help for problem gambling is not a sign of weakness or desperation—it is a responsible and courageous step on the road to recovery.

Problem gambling can be treated and overcome. Everyone deserves help so if you or someone you know is experiencing problems with gambling, please contact us.

UCMH Counselling Services provides free, specialised gambling help counselling to anyone affected by problem gambling— not just the person who gambles. Gambling help counselling is funded by the NSW Responsible Gambling Fund. We provide a safe and confidential atmosphere, where our professionally trained counsellors help you to explore the scope and impact of the gambling problem, consider all available options and take the most appropriate actions to resolve the problem.

We have gambling help counsellors throughout Sydney at ParramattaFairfield, Manly Vale and Bankstown. We also have a service on the Central Coast at Gosford. If you would like to arrange an appointment please contact us.

For urgent matters and after-hours support please visit the following sites:

Gambling Help Gambling Help Online