Bought to you by Nuffnang and Gambling Help NSW

“As stupid as it sounds I was lonely, didn’t know anyone, missed my friends and family and gambling was my escape, we then went through IVF and conceived my son, but I didn’t stop. We are now in debt again to the tune of $25,000 with $1,000 in the bank. I am 5 months pregnant and stressed out to the max. My husband has a good job and we have worked out a plan to save and get our debt down. I feel so weak willed. Please tell me every day gets easier and how you all managed?” – Claire

This is just one of the real stories on the Gambling Help website. Story after story of addiction, heartache and renewed resolve to get help and seek help for loved ones. Women are often painted as the victims of their partner’s gambling addictions, which they are, but women also turn to gambling. Nobody is immune.

According to Roy Morgan Research, Australians spent about $18.1 billion on gambling in 2011, with 60 per cent of that money going into poker machines. The average Australian spends $1,641 on gambling each year, while at risk or problem gamblers spend on average of $11,500 annually. In NSW alone, there are an estimated 40,000 problem gamblers and for every individual with a problem with gambling, on average there are up to 10 other people who are also affected. It is a major and largely invisible problem.

As gambling, like drinking, is such a socially acceptable past time, those who are struggling often feel shame to admit it. Stigma stops them – it shouldn’t. Between 8-17% of people with a gambling problem seek professional help of any kind; they tend to be those who have hit rock bottom and are in crisis. But what about those who have yet to hit rock bottom? What is stopping them from seeking help? Fear, shame, embarrassment.

Gambling already has a stronghold on so many people. It can tear families apart. It can also lead to death. A coronial report released last year revealed the devastating toll gambling had in Victoria. It showed that 128 people, including teenagers, had taken their own lives in the past decade as a direct result of gambling addiction. Two of those had been because of the impact of their partners’ gambling.

Gambling reaches out and strangles communities and tears people apart. It cares nothing about geographic location, educational backgrounds, work histories, family units or sanity. It does not care for anyone. Gambling is an addiction and people who struggle need everyone’s love and support, but most importantly they need to love themselves enough to seek help. They need to know they’re stronger than they think.

“I’m deeply in debt because of this addiction. I gamble all of my money on slot machines. I recently gave up control of my money, this has helped me a lot as my bills are now being paid. I also banned myself from five local casinos. If I don’t gamble I get really bad anxiety and panic attacks. To recover from this addiction the addict may recognize he has a problem and seek help. An addict will lie to hide his habit. It is very hard to help an addict if the person does not want to change. I have hope that I’m going to recover from this addiction, I have seen what this habit does to people” – Ana

If you think you have a problem with gambling you need to know that:


The hardest part is taking the first steps and seeking help relies on a number of stages, including:

  • Recognising that you do have a problem.
  • Being willing to disclose/share your problem/secret.
  • Feeling comfortable about seeking help.
  • Knowing what services are available to you.
  • Believing that these services can help you.

All Gambling Help support services are free and available for family members as well as the gambler themselves. Don’t wait to hit rock bottom before reaching out.

Do you have questions about this topic? If so, please email me directly or leave a comment here. If you feel more comfortable you can do this anonymously. With the help of Gambling Help NSW we’ll try and answer your questions in a special Facebook forum later this month.

You are stronger than you think.