Australia’s embrace of “pokies” in clubs and pubs makes it a “global anomaly,” according to researchers, who are concerned that the machines are contributing to gambling addiction.
Australia has more “pokies” per person than any other nation, according to a new report released by the Australia Institute, causing locals to lose large sums of money and develop addictions to gambling.
Researchers point out that the prominence of poker machines—also called slot machines—in Australia rivals that of casino-states like Macau. Australia is one of the few countries in the world that allows pokies to be placed in public places like pubs and clubs, creating more opportunity to play, and to spend.
Bill Brown, one of the report’s authors, highlighted in The Guardian how Australia is home to just 0.3 percent of the world’s population, but has 18 percent of its poker machines.
What’s the Harm in a Game?
Australians “lose more money gambling than anyone else in the world,” the report states, adding that problem gambling frequently happens because of easy accessibility to poker machines.
The fast pace of gambling on pokies creates a rush for the player, but also increases the chance of losing money. Betting the maximum amount can cause players to lose more than $1,000 per hour, the Australia Institute’s report revealed. Those struggling with gambling problems are more likely to engage in high-risk betting, and therefore, lose more money.
The Guardian reported that in the last financial year, residents of Tasmania alone lost more than $100 million on poker machines—the state is now looking to ban pokies. An independent member of parliament added that the machines—presumably because of the money they require of players—contribute to “social ills including crime, domestic violence, suicide and childhood poverty.”
When Does a Gambling Pastime Become an Addiction?
Gambling can create feelings of euphoria similar to drugs and alcohol, because it plays into the brain’s reward system. Placing a bet gives the person a rush of dopamine—just like substance abuse can.
Gambling is a process addiction, or an addiction to a behaviour. It becomes a problem when a person continues to gamble despite suffering negative outcomes. At this point, gamblers feel unable stop betting, and can go deeply into debt and lose the things most important to them before they realise that they need help.
What are the signs that gambling has crossed the line from a form an entertainment to an addiction?
- You have debts from gambling that are difficult to manage
- You go to extreme lengths to get money to continue placing bets—selling possessions or property, cashing in investments, re-mortgaging homes, or taking out loans
- You find yourself lying to friends and family about how often or how much you gamble
- You try to cut back on gambling but are unable to stop
- You gamble more to try to get back money you’ve lost
- You find that you need to gamble with larger amounts to get the thrill you used to get from betting smaller sums
How Do You Break This Cycle?
As with other addictions, people need professional help to overcome gambling disorders. Treatment can be a full-immersion inpatient experience, or involve sessions as an outpatient. This is something that is typically decided by an addiction specialist, and can be done through a free and confidential consultation.
The Cabin Melbourne has become a top choice for outpatient treatment of gambling addiction and allows you to change harmful patterns while still maintaining the responsibilities of your daily life. Our program involves a unique combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, the 12 steps, and meditation to promote mindfulness. Our main focus is on preventing relapse and in coping with situations and actions that trigger the impulse to gamble.
For patients that feel they will be more successful confronting their addiction outside of their regular environment, we offer inpatient treatment at The Cabin Chiang Mai, situated in the lush mountains of northern Thailand, a day’s travel from Melbourne. Our staff have earned Western accreditation, and the setting—complete with pools, gardens, and massage facilities—promotes relaxation and self-care during recovery.
Invest in Your Own Wellbeing Today
If you are struggling to stop gambling, let one of our specialists assist you in deciding which treatment option is best suited to your needs. Your health is not something to bet on—contact us today and take the first step toward a life in which you are in control.