I’m going to talk about a serious issue that affects many Australians: gambling. With the upcoming Melbourne Cup event in Australia, you might be tempted to place a bet on your favourite horse or jockey. But before you do, let me tell you about the dangers of gambling and why you should think twice.
Gambling is not just a harmless form of entertainment. It can have serious consequences for your health, wellbeing, finances and relationships. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australians lose approximately $25 billion on legal forms of gambling each year, representing the largest per capita losses in the world (https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/gambling). That’s a lot of money that could be spent on more productive and rewarding things, like education, health care, hobbies or charity.
Gambling can also cause emotional and psychological distress, such as anxiety, depression, guilt and shame. It can affect your self-esteem, your work performance and your social interactions. It can also lead to addiction, which is a chronic condition that requires professional help. The Australian Gambling Research Centre found that almost half (46%) of Australians who gambled were classified as being at some risk of gambling harm (https://aifs.gov.au/research/research-snapshots/gambling-participation-and-experience-harm-australia). That means they experienced negative impacts from their gambling behaviour, such as financial difficulties, relationship problems, health issues or legal troubles.
Gambling can also have a negative impact on the community and the environment. It can contribute to crime, corruption and violence. It can also harm animals, especially those involved in racing. Many horses suffer injuries, abuse and death as a result of the racing industry. According to the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, more than 100 horses died on Australian racetracks in 2021 alone (https://horseracingkills.com/issues/deathwatch/). That’s not counting the thousands of horses that are sent to slaughterhouses every year when they are no longer profitable.
So, what can you do to avoid gambling harm? Here are some tips:
– Set a limit on how much money and time you can afford to spend on gambling and stick to it.
– Don’t gamble when you are feeling stressed, bored, lonely or depressed.
– Seek help if you think you have a gambling problem or if someone close to you does. You can call Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 or visit https://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/ for free and confidential support.
– Find alternative ways to have fun and relax, such as spending time with friends and family, pursuing a hobby or joining a club or group.
– Educate yourself and others about the harms of gambling and the benefits of responsible gambling.
– Support campaigns and organisations that advocate for gambling reform and animal welfare.
I hope this post has given you some perspective and inspired you to make informed choices about gambling. Remember, gambling is not worth risking your health, happiness or money. There are better ways to enjoy life and celebrate events like the Melbourne Cup. Stay safe and take care.