What is Problem Gambling?

Problem Gambling

is when a person's gambling causes harm to themselves and/or to those around them such as a partner, family, friends, or others in the community. When gambling begins to consume more money and time than a person can afford it can affect many parts of their lives, including physical and emotional health, finances, relationships, work and study.

Problem gambling affects a small percentage of the population, but it can have devastating effects on the individuals concerned, their families and the wider community. It's estimated that for every one person with a gambling problem there are between 5 and 10 others who are negatively affected. For more information visit the Commonwealth Government's Gambling information.

How do you gamble?

There is a spectrum of gambling behaviour populated at one end by people with no problems (recreational gamblers) through to people with moderate (regular gamblers) and, at the other end, severe problems (frequent/problem gamblers).

Problem gambling spectrum - a link to a text description is found following the graphic.

Link to a text description of the gambling spectrum graphic.

Is gambling affecting your mental health?

People may not see a connection between their gambling and their health concerns however, problem gambling is associated with a range of mental health problems:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Other mood disorders
  • Heavy alcohol use or drug problems
  • Poor physical health (such as headaches and difficulty sleeping)
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Problem gambling coincides with high rates of co-morbidity (the existence of other conditions such as alcohol and drug use and mental health issues, particularly depression) and cross-addiction. There is a lot of evidence that people gamble to ease psychological problems.

A 2008 Australian study (Monash University and the University of Melbourne, Risk and Protective Factors, Depression and Comorbidities in Problem Gambling) found that problem gamblers were at risk of depression at a rate of 71.4% and were likely to have an alcohol problem at a rate of 50%. Read Beyond Blue's fact sheet on problem gambling and depression (PDF 183.7 KB) or our Problem Gambling and Mental Health Fact Sheet (PDF 165.5 KB)

Help or emergency assistance

For help or emergency assistance with a mental health issue, phone 000 (triple zero) or call one of the support services below.

Crisis Care (South Australia)
131 611 (after hours, local call fee)

Mental Health Triage Service (South Australia)
13 14 65 (24 hours, 7 days)

Lifeline (National)
13 11 14 (24 hours, 7 days)

beyondblue info line (National)
1300 22 4636 (local call fee)

Immediate help is available now. Contact the Gambling Helpline now for free and confidential support, 24/7

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