SMARTPHONES are making it easier for gambling to spiral out of control, according to St Luke’s Gambler’s Help therapeutic counsellor Julie Betteridge.
Ms Betteridge said sports betting was a growing area of concern and an issue being compounded by the use of devices able to access the internet such as smartphones.
“They can access their bank accounts through their phone, through the computer, and they could wipe their whole bank account in an afternoon,” she said.
“So it can be quite a problem.”
Gambling is in the spotlight today during a free forum presented by St Luke’s at Bendigo’s Youth Central in Mundy Street from 6.30pm.
The event is part of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week and aims to support anyone affected by someone who has an increasing preoccupation with gambling.
Ms Betteridge said there was always a lot of focus on pokie machines and problem gambling but sports betting was also something to watch.
“It does seem to be increasing,” she said.
“It’s so accessible with things like smartphones.
“And they can do it any time of the day so it gets harder for them to, when they start to try to put some holds on it or manage it, it’s not as easy for them.
“They have to actually change lots of things.
“Whereas, if someone’s got a problem with the pokies we can just have them self excluded or they just stop going into those places.
“But the sports betting is so accessible, on their phones, computers, all that sort of stuff.
“But during their coffee break they can pop out and put a couple of bets on and nobody knows the difference.
“And if family members are trying to support them, it’s so much harder for them to be able to keep an eye on that.”
Ms Betteridge said males were more likely to be drawn into sports betting.
“When I first started working in this field five and a half years ago I’ve seen a few TAB people and they were usually older people or had grown up with horses and things like that.
“But now I’m seeing people who are working, who are finding that they are getting caught up with the whole sports betting because they’re seeing it on the TV.
“You know, football’s a big thing for Australians so of course it’s going to follow on once it sort of moves into that area.”
• If you have a gambling problem and need help phone Gambler’s Help on 1800 858 858.