Shepparton: Gambling Harm Forum

The Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria – partnering with the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District – will conduct a Gambling Harm Forum in Shepparton on Tuesday, 27 November.


Gambling Harm in Victoria
The Study of gambling and health in Victoria found 70.1 per cent of Victorians gamble, most of whom (82.2 per cent) show no signs of harm from their gambling.

This means almost one in five (around 550,000) Victorians who gamble may be experiencing harm from gambling.

In addition, 2.8 per cent of people surveyed as part of the study reported experiencing harm as a result of someone else’s gambling in the preceding 12 months. When applied to the Victorian adult population, this is around 122,500 people. Of course, this excludes children, who may also be affected by gambling harm.

Given the ripple effect of gambling harm, and recognising it not only affects people who gamble and those close to them, but also the broader community, the Foundation commissioned a major study into the impact of gambling harm in Victoria.

The 2016 study Assessing gambling-related harm in Victoria used a standard World Health Organisation approach to measure the effect of a health condition on a person’s quality of life. The researchers collected information about gambling harm in Victoria and then used findings from our Study of gambling and health in Victoria to estimate the impact of gambling harm on the community as a whole.

The study classified gambling harm into seven broad types:

relationship difficulties
health problems
emotional or psychological distress
financial problems
issues with work or study
cultural problems
criminal activity.

Gambling and Faith

At the 2018 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference Rev. Tim Costello spoke about gambling and its similarities with what religion offers: religions offer meaning, hope, identity and community. Gambling, said Rev. Tim Costello, offers similar yet veils them. Gambling offers illusory false promises similar to the binding nature of faith.

Unfortunately, he pointed out – sport is now coupled with gambling which is grooming kids to gamble. Gambling has its own mantra – Gamble responsibly. (This is simply permission from the government to be a gambler, and sends a false message to children watching gambling ads. The Government supplies an auxiliary mantra, Leave before you lose it.)

It is natural for people to bond together and form communities. Community offers the promise of inclusion, company, friendship. Clubs with pokies give an illusory promise of community. Clubs and venues with pokies are a cheap way to provide community. They give cheap beer, cheap meals and cheap coffee, the promise of community that local government does not have to fulfil. The sense of community offered at a Pokies club is driven by gambling.

Faith communities all offer some form of hope, hope while you are living, and hope in the afterlife. Hope helps us to address the big questions of life. Gambling offers hope, too. The dominant narrative of our (Australian) culture, both Western and Eastern, is “the wealthier I am, the happier I will be”… a mistaken assertion about the nature of happiness. “If I get a lucky break, I’ll have more money, and the happier I’ll be“. A machine smashes hope; you can’t play a machine and win. (Machines are set to return only 87% of monies inserted to the player sans jackpots.)

The mistaken narrative about happiness continues, “If I win, I will have hope! Hope for what? Hope for the future? This raises many questions about what people are living for.

Perhaps, Australian Identity is part of this gambling narrative: Australians like Eucalyptus Oil, Gambling and having a bet each way – a punt. rev. Costello said “You’re not an Aussie if you are not having a punt, if you’re not in the Melbourne Cup Sweep at work.” It was the only activity the poor man shared with the upper echelons of society was the sport of kings, horse racing. This was part and parcel of tribalising, a form of nationalism, the common cause. There is a shared sacrifice (win or lose), a public enterprise with its roots in the soil – everyone wants an identity. And part of that nationalising, being a typical Australian, is going down the street to place a bet at the TAB.

That the government taxes betting – and recently removed the contributions the TAB and Weekly Consultations (think Tatts, Tattslotto, Australian Lotto Block) had to give to the hospitals and charities commission – reveals a morally bankrupt government. Tim Costello raised questions about whether this is really the character of the Sunburnt Soul, the typical Australian.

Meaning raises one of the big questions of life, Tim Costello shared. We all have these questions, “Why am I here? Am I just a biological creature?” These are the big questions fo religion. Man – and woman – is made in the image and likeness of God. Viktor Frankl – a Holocaust survivor – He survived the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Frankl was the founder of logotherapy, which is a form of existential analysis. He asked himself the question, “Will I survive Auschwitz?” After Auschwitz, the question becomes “survive for what”. As Frankl taught in logotherapy, we all have to make our meaning.

Meaning for those Australians who have a punt and play the pokies is all about being a winner and not a loser. “My meaning is to be a winner, then I am happier.” The only sense of meaning gambling offers is an illusory meaning, for gambling inevitably loses, and loses everything.

Tim Costello finished with some observations on “Gamble Responsibly”. This so-called mantra silences people. Machines are built for addicting people with their colourful facades, flashing lights, bells and whistles and promises of jackpots. Gamble responsibly is a massive silencing, an overpowering stigma for compulsive gamblers. If you admit you are a compulsive gambler, then you admit you’re not a responsible person. You admit you are not responsible. Pokies are the cocaine of gambling, Costello said.



Event Details
Program: Gambling Harm Forum
Date: Tuesday, 27 November
Time: 10am – 12 noon.
Location: Masonic Centre, 161 Welsford St, Shepparton
RSVP: Andrew Murley, 5831 2395
More information: 5831 2395



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