Gambling addictions

Australia is a gambling nation, with around 80 per cent of young people having participated in gambling at least once. What starts as fun can become a serious problem if it begins to negatively affect your daily life or cause financial problems. On average, one Australian teen in every high school class has an issue with gambling. Quitting a gambling addiction isn’t easy, but there are a lot of support services available if you think you have a problem with it.

This can help if:

  • you’re spending a lot of time gambling

  • you’re in debt as a result of gambling

  • you want to know more about problem gambling

  • you’d like help with quitting or reducing your gambling.

Person gambling with chips

Signs of a gambling addiction

A gambling addiction isn't always easy for someone to admit to. In fact, people who who have a problem with gambling often lie about their betting habits or try to hide them from others. If you’re worried that you or a friend might have a gambling addiction, here are some common signs:

  • You think or talk about gambling all the time.

  • You spend more money or time on gambling than you intend to.

  • You gamble when you feel sad, anxious or distressed.

  • You spend more and more money to get the same ‘kick’ or rush.

  • You bet more and more money to try and make up for past losses.

  • You’ve repeatedly tried to stop or reduce your gambling without success.

  • You become irritable or restless when you try to cut back on your gambling.

  • Gambling is having a negative effect on your relationships, work or study.

  • You rely on other people for money, because of your gambling losses.

  • You feel depressed or are having suicidal thoughts.

Negative effects of a gambling addiction

Problem gambling impacts on every part of your life.

Social impacts

  • Falling into debt and not having enough money for your everyday expenses.

  • Increased conflict with your partner, neglect or mistreatment of your family members, and loss of friendships.

  • Underperforming, failing subjects or losing your job.

Emotional impacts

  • Higher rates of distress and mental illness.

  • In particular, high incidence of depression and anxiety.

  • Episodes of irritability, anger, guilt, shame and loneliness.

Behavioural impacts

  • Higher chance of substance abuse and drug addiction.

  • Higher rates of problem drinking and smoking.

  • Frequently taking prolonged leave from work, home life and other normal settings.

Getting help for gambling addiction

The good news is that there are a wide range of treatment options and resources available to help you manage a gambling addiction. Professional help is recommended, but a variety of self-help and supported options are also available.

National Gambling Helpline

You can get immediate support by calling the National Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is free and confidential.

BetStop — The National Self-Exclusion Register

BetStop is a safe and free Australian Government initiative to block yourself from all licensed Australian online and phone gambling providers. You can register for a minimum of 3 months, up to a lifetime. Once you register, online and phone gambling providers will not be able to:

  • let you place a bet

  • let you open new betting accounts

  • send you marketing messages.

You can also nominate a support person to help you through your self-exclusion period.

Gambling Help Online

Gambling Help Online has a bunch of different support options to suit your needs, including:

Gamblers Anonymous and SMART Recovery

Share your experience and work towards recovery from a gambling addiction with others by joining Gamblers Anonymous or SMART Recovery.

National Debt Helpline

You can call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. This free services connects you with a trained financial counsellor who will assess your financial situation and provide advice. If your financial situation is complex, they'll help you access a financial counsellor and other support service in your area.

Other resources and information

Crisis support services

You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 for 24/7 support with any personal difficulties or distress.

24/7 culturally safe support for First Nations young people is available by calling 13Yarn (13 92 76).

Gambling Impact Society

Find help sheets, lived experience videos, and other resources on the GIS site.

Department of Social Services

Find more information about gambling support, reforms and research. You can also watch videos of people talk about their own gambling addiction experiences.

What can I do now?

  • Learn more about addiction.

  • Visit Gambling Help Online for further information and support.

  • Chat to others who are going through a tough time in the ReachOut Forums.