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Gambling problems lurk in many household budgets

Gambling problems lurk in many household budgets

The impact of gambling on household finances – and the ways in which its damage can be minimised – were brought into sharp perspective at a recent conference in Rotorua.

Gambling Problem Helpline representatives advised The NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services Conference on how to identify gamblers and where to direct clients if gambling is contributing to their financial problems. They also spoke of the sensitivities of dealing with the issue.

The conference is a national event held bi-annually for federated budget service workers - made up of a mix of volunteer workers and paid staff. These service workers assist those in need to manage their household budgets successfully.

The Gambling Problem Helpline’s general manager Gary Clifford said few of the conference delegates were aware that the Helpline also provides callers with a free budgeting service.

“Managing personal finances and household budgets is no easy matter when you have a gambling problem. We’re able to provide useful budgeting advice and support for people with gambling problems and those affected by others’ problem gambling,” said Mr Clifford.

“With around $1.5 billion lost by New Zealand gamblers each year, there’s a need for anyone providing budgeting and financial advisory services to know the signs of a gambling problem and where to direct their clients for free and confidential help. “

Gambling Facts

There are over 25,000 pokies in New Zealand

Most people gamble at some time e.g. on Lotto, racing, pokies

At least one person in 40 is likely to develop a gambling problem

Each can affect 5 or more others

Gambling problems do not respect age, culture, gender or intelligence

Problem gambling is like an addiction

Financial problems are common

Shame, guilt, loneliness and depression are often the result

Gambling problems can be beaten

Free and confidential help is available nationwide for gamblers, whanau/family and friends.

Signs for budgeters/financial advisers to look for when identifying a problem gambler:

Are there unexplained cash withdrawals on bank statements?

(Frequent ATM withdrawals or ATM withdrawals at unusual times or locations)

Are there unusual cash sources?

(Use of credit cards for cash withdrawal; unexplained or unsecured loans; goods pawned)

Does the client get defensive or react badly to suggestion of a gambling problem?

(Aggressive; claim to be giving the money away; blames partner in their absence).

Is there a history of broken payment agreements?

(Budgeted payments for hire purchase or refinance not made; household bills may not be paid)

Does the client have any alcohol or drug problem/history?

(Gambling often goes with alcohol and drugs; addictive tendencies may cover many aspects of life; gambling may last into later life more than alcohol or drug abuse)

Does the client show signs of high-low mood swings?

(Gamblers often experience short term euphoria even when they lose; “almost winning” and “chasing losses” can be very exciting; this can be followed by severe ‘downs’ and self-loathing, especially when the adrenalin goes)

Does the client seem lonely, bored and/or stressed?

(Gambling often becomes a solitary activity; absorption into gambling can often drive away friends; gamblers often get stressed waiting for their next ‘fix’)

Has the client stopped other social activities?

(Sport and other social activities can be abandoned in favour of gambling; family outings etc may be forgotten; and friends stop calling).

What budgeters/financial advisers can do to help their clients

Encourage them to call the Gambling Problem Helpline, toll free on 0800 654 655, available every day of the year.

Let your client know there are gambling problem information packs available free of charge.

Phone the Gambling Problem Helpline yourself, with or without the client, for information or advice.

Gambling Problem Helpline: 0800 654 655

Budget Advice Line: 0800 654 658

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