Gambling takes toll on loved ones


New research examining the full impact of gambling related harm on loved ones has been released by the Australian National University, highlighting that the toll is not restricted to the gambler.

The 2019 ACT Gambling Survey found 17,000 adults in the ACT, or 5% of the adult population, had been personally affected by a loved one’s gambling.

Co-author Dr Marisa Paterson said the toll on family members, friends and colleagues can include financial, emotional, mental and physical impacts; e.g. relationship conflict, emotional distress and reduced performance at work or study are all common.

The study found women affected by someone else’s gambling rarely seek formal help.

Co-author Dr Megan Whitty said “we know women are disproportionately represented when it comes to experiencing the negative effects of a family members’ gambling”.

“There is still a lot of shame and fear around it. Counsellors told us partners often have a belief the gambling is their fault – or they’re contributing to it in some way.

“So it’s really vital that we take a long hard look at what is stopping women, and other people from seeking help, and what we can do to change that.”

In total, the researchers spoke to 45 people across NSW and the ACT in 2019, including gambling counsellors and people with lived experience of gambling-related harm.

“What we learnt from these interviews is things like emotional distress, financial distress and erosion of trust are interwoven with additional gambling-related harm,” Dr Whitty said.

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