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Gambling harm heightened during holiday season

17 December 2007
Gambling harm heightened during the holiday season
Problem gamblers, friends and family urged to come forward

With the festive season upon us, the Gambling Helpline is urging problem gamblers and affected friends and family to come forward for help.

Chief executive of the Gambling Helpline, Krista Ferguson, said harm from problem gambling was particularly felt at this time of year.

“Research and our experience reveals families go without necessities due to money lost by problem gamblers. At Christmas with extra costs from anything to presents for family and friends to travelling to family gatherings, financial and emotional pressure can increase to boiling point.“

A survey released last week, the 2006/07 Gaming and Betting Activities Survey (GBAS)[1] report, revealed that while knowledge of gambling harms is quite high at a general level, people’s understanding of the full range of impacts – including individual, social and economic – remains limited.

“Gambling problems can cause relationship difficulties, stress, depression and significant financial and legal problems that are hard to face alone,” said Ms Ferguson.

Sixteen per cent of those surveyed said someone in the wider family or household had to go without something they needed or some bills weren’t paid because too much was spent on gambling by another person.

The survey found almost 10 per cent of people surveyed said they had gambled at a harmful level on at least one occasion in the last twelve months, while almost a quarter said that they had done so at some time in their lives.

Ms Ferguson said it was good news to see that there was also an awareness of strategies to prevent and manage gambling harm, such as leaving credit and other bank cards at home and only gambling with a set amount.

The survey also found that 52 per cent of people felt comfortable referring family and friends to a range of services.

“This is a really good starting point, but we’d like to see that comfort level at a higher percent. It is not just pressure on the individual who is gambling, but their gambling-related behaviour and debt can potentially effect the lives of seven significant others – including family, friends and co-workers. They may have used shared credit cards or can no longer contribute to the mortgage which affects the whole family.”

The Gambling Helpline wants to encourage anyone including friends and family to come forward and ask for help. The Gambling Helpline can provide anonymous and practical support during this stressful time and relieve some of the burden that the holiday period can bring to those affected by problem gambling.

The Gambling Helpline is open through the holiday period, including on Christmas Day and New Year Day, from 8am-10pm (Monday to Friday) and 9am-10pm (Saturday and Sunday).

If you are worried about your gambling or that of someone close to you call the Gambling Helpline on 0800 654 655, text 8006 or visit


[1] The 2006/0-7 Gaming and Betting Activities Survey was carried out by the research company National Research Bureau Ltd for the Health Sponsorship Council from December 2006 to May 2007. 1,973 people were selected at random for this nationwide survey.


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