A NEW documentary aimed at tackling the rise in gambling problems has been launched with help from the South Lake Ottey Family and Neighbour Centre.
Not-for-profit group Linkwest conducted a 12-month study into the issue using centres such as Ottey, and the YouTube film will focus on showing that gambling problems affect not just the punter.
“Research shows the actions of one problem gambler negatively effect 5–10 others, which makes the issue very much a community one,” Linkwest Program for Problem Gambling projects manager Mihaela Nicolescu says.
“One of the positive outcomes…was to get conversations started in the community, not just about the issue, but in the important role communities have to play in terms of prevention and treatment.”
The Ottey centre offers counselling for gamblers and centre co-ordinator Maria Bakas-Booker says she hopes the film will encourage problem gamblers to seek help.
Secrecy is a huge contributor to gambling problems, she says.
“Gambling is so normalised no-one thinks it’s a problem – until suddenly you’ve lost $6000 you don’t have.”
A South Lake local, whose daughter and grandchildren have been impacted by a gambling addiction agrees secrecy is a big part of the problem.
“No-one says it’s a broad problem and the community doesn’t know how bad it is,” she says on the documentary.
Online gambling is a growing problem, accounting for 62 per cent of all bets in Australia.
Along with the advertising blitz, gaming agencies offer “free” money to lure punters in.
“When a student doing placement here turned 18 he got a text message saying there was money in credit to him,” Ms Bakas-Booker says.
Community services shadow Simone McGurk was at the screening of the documentary. “With so many ads for online sports betting, and betting within easy reach of your mobile phone, it’s no surprise that problem gambling is on the rise,” the Fremantle MLA says.
“This important video not only raises awareness but directs people how to get help,” she says.
To view it go to YouTube and type in ACE Community beyond gambling.
by JENNY D’ANGER