Online gambling: it's mostly young men getting in too deep

There had been a significant increase in online problem gambling on the Fraser Coast, a Hervey Bay counsellor says.
There had been a significant increase in online problem gambling on the Fraser Coast, a Hervey Bay counsellor says. Shawn Hempel

TYPICALLY, they will be a male aged between 18 and 24.

They are usually technology savvy and started playing online poker games to kill time, maybe because they saw an online poker ad with an offer of some free credits.

After they spent the free credit, they spent a little bit of their own money, just to play for an hour or two after work.

But then they started spending even more money and they play the poker game during breaks at work and for hours when they get home.

They aren't engaging with the people in their lives, maybe the addiction has even cost them their relationship, and they are now struggling financially.

This is the kind of case Hervey Bay's Ingrid Payne is encountering on a regular basis on the Fraser Coast.

She works for Uniting Care which provides a gambling help service.

Ms Payne said there had been a significant increase in online problem gambling on the Fraser Coast.

The hours spent gambling online not only harms the person financially but also impacts on the time they spent with friends and family.

That can seriously damage the relationships in their lives.

"The people I see are of a younger generation," Ms Payne said.

"A lot of them don't realise how much money they have been spending."

Many of the people feel embarrassed and ashamed about what has happened, Ms Payne said.

"When they come to see me they are actually desperate," she said.

"Everything has gone wrong in their lives. It's so insidious, it's difficult to control."

Often the people who came to Ms Payne for help needed her assistance in rebuilding their lives.

"Often they are in terrible trouble," Ms Payne said.

Ms Payne generally saw more young men than women but it did happen to both, she said.

Depending on what people wanted to do, she helped them change their thought processes when it came to gambling.

For those who were unable to gamble responsibly, she helped them learn to abstain from gambling.

"It's wonderful to see them get their lives back," she said.

Topics:  addiction counsellor hervey bay online gambling uniting care

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