SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Gambling can sometimes grow without people realising how their gambling habits have changed.
- You do not have to gamble everyday or lose money every session to have an issue with your gambling.
- If you’re worried about your gambling or someone else’s, get help sooner rather than later.
For most people, starts as a form of entertainment, for example, as a bit of excitement, an opportunity to socialise, or time away from the pressures of work or family. However, gambling can sometimes grow without people realising how their gambling habits have changed.
Triggers for gambling
A significant change or stress can become the trigger for gambling to spiral out of control. A big win can also have the same effect. Even without specific stress, gambling can increase.
Regular gambling, through its increasing demands on time, energy and money, can strain relationships, work and . If you’re worried about your gambling or someone else’s, get help sooner rather than later.
Assess your gambling
If gambling has stopped being fun for you and started to feel like a problem, think about the reasons why you gamble. Write a list. Common reasons include:
- to win money
- for entertainment
- to be sociable
- to forget troubles
- for something to do
- for excitement
- to avoid talking to people, or to isolate from others.
Sometimes, people may gamble as a habit. The reasons they started are forgotten, but the habit goes on. You can take steps to break the habit.
Signs that gambling may be a problem
It’s sometimes hard to know if your gambling is getting out of hand. A common reaction is to minimise it or deny that it’s causing harm. Some people may hide their gambling or start to lie about how much time and money they are spending on it.
You might say to yourself, “I enjoy this, it’s just my way of relaxing...”, “I’ll stop when I have the next big win...”, “It makes me forget my worries...” or “I can stop whenever I want”. These are all forms of denial.
Perhaps you are:
- kept awake at night thinking about gambling
- feeling you’re out of control
- building up debts you can’t pay
- betting more than you can afford
- feeling you can’t talk to anyone about your gambling
- hiding evidence of your gambling activity.
Making the decision to cut back or quit
Some people who experience significant harm from gambling can return to a controlled level of gambling. Most people prefer to give up gambling for good. Giving up may be your best option if you are:
- losing more money than you can afford
- accumulating debts
- suffering mentally, physically or socially.
Family and friends can help
You are more likely to succeed if you have help from your family and close friends. Make an effort to explain your problem to the people closest to you.
Most people can understand the problem of addiction. Once you can admit that your problem may have hurt them, and you can tell them so, they will be more likely to support you.
How to reduce your gambling
These tools can help you stay in control of your gambling or quit for good.
- Note down three positive things about how you feel when you’re not gambling. Keep these somewhere safe — such as in notes on your phone.
- When the gambling urge comes up, read the notes back to yourself.
- Plan ahead — if an opportunity to gamble on a particular event or at a specific time is coming up, make plans to do something else instead.
- Keep busy.
- If you feel the urge to return to a venue or open an app, close your eyes and think about the name or branding of the venue or app. Now think about the name or branding of something you don't like. It could be a type of food or shop you don't like. Do this back and forwards for a few minutes and repeat it each time you feel the gambling urge.
This is you taking control of a pathway you created in your mind and turning it into a road leading out.
- Think about winding the car window down and getting far away to a favourite place.
- People often think they’re gambling to relieve stress. But gambling and losing can actually cause much more stress. Consider an alternative like exercise. Even 15 minutes of physical exercise a day can reduce your stress levels.
- Helping other people with their troubles can have a huge positive effect on the way you see yourself and on your sense of worth. You could volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about or look around and see someone close to you who needs a hand.
- If you feel the gambling urge and you know someone else who also struggles with gambling, reach out to ask if they need help. Let them know that you are going through the same experience. Helping someone else can turn the urge on its head.
Whatever you call it: the gambling urge; the itch; the bug; the addiction. You can come up with a plan and beat it.
How to fill the gap
When you give up or cut back on gambling, you need to fill the gap it leaves.
- Make extra time for family and friends if you have neglected them while gambling.
- Take another part-time job.
- If you are a lunchtime gambler, go somewhere different with workmates, arrange to meet someone, take a sandwich and read a book, or go for a walk or a jog.
- Take up a hobby or a sport.
- Set short-term and long-term goals that don’t involve gambling.
- Look at other things you can do to ‘treat’ yourself.
- Make your home an interesting place to be in, with interesting things to do.
- Do the things you may have stopped when you started to gamble too much.
Get professional help
If you are finding it difficult, you do not have to handle your issues with gambling on your own.
Every year Gambler’s Help assists thousands of Victorians to successfully take control of their gambling. Gambler’s Help supports people experiencing harm from gambling, family and friends close to them, and those just wanting to cut back or regain control.
All Gambler's Help services are 100% free.
Where to get help
- Tel. 24-hour telephone counselling service
- Tel. 24-hour telephone counselling service for people under 25.
- Your or other health professional
- - counselling and information services including a .
- Tel. , TTY 1800 777 706 – 24-hour telephone counselling service
- Tel. – support group for people with a gambling problem
- – information about the odds of winning, how gambling works, and when to stop
- Victoria Tel.