YOUNG men are struggling to deal with gambling habits picked up during the Covid-19 shutdowns.
Levels of sports betting among young men increased dramatically during the coronavirus lockdown, with a study by the Australian Gambling Research Centre finding they were spending nearly $400 extra each month.
But many, like local student Luke, are finding it hard to wind back their punts even though most of the country is now emerging from lockdowns.
Luke said before Covid he rarely bet on sport.
“Although lockdown was quite short in WA, there was nothing to do except for watching and betting on the races,” he said.
“I had never watched racing before, but it was the only sport that was still going, and it seemed it was only enjoyable to watch if you were gambling on it.
“I told myself once lockdown had finished and other sports came back that I would stop, but I haven’t stopped yet and have really increased my gambling by betting on the returning sports.”
Fellow student Tom is also feeling the effects of a gambling addiction and believes there isn’t enough support to help young men kick the habit.
“Like a lot of my mates, I took up gambling during lockdown fully expecting to stop once lockdown was over,” Tom said.
“However, lockdown has long been finished and I don’t know how to quit.
“There are no easily accessible organisations who can help young men like myself quit gambling, and I’m not sure how to make myself stop.
“There needs to be more awareness about where to go if you have a gambling addiction, because I’ve got no idea what to do.”
Both young men said most of their male friends had developed similar gambling addictions and showed no signs of slowing down, with many of them far worse off than they are.
Increased levels of gambling can have very detrimental effects to the health and wellbeing of both gamblers and the people close to them.
According to Gambler’s Help, gambling can result in relationship conflict, reduced work or study performance, financial difficulties and serious mental health problems, among other issues.