Queenslanders urged to ‘check in’ following reports of increase in online gambling

A reported increase in online gambling since mid-March has prompted the need to raise Queenslanders’ awareness of the risks of online gambling – and the importance of reaching out for help if gambling becomes a problem.

Commissioner for Liquor and Gaming Victoria Thomson said the response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis had resulted in many people being financially impacted and feeling socially isolated, with concerns some had turned to online gambling as a distraction, or in the false belief they could make money.

“We want all Queenslanders to know our Gambling Help counselling services are now more accessible than ever, with free and confidential helpline and online support available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, and services across the state expanding the provision of alternatives to face-to-face counselling, such as telephone and video counselling,” Ms Thomson said.

Chief Executive Officer of Lifeline Darling Downs and South-West Queensland, and Chair of the Queensland Government’s Responsible Gambling Advisory Committee, Derek Tuffield, said many of their Gambling Help clients had really embraced the new technology.

“Through these new ways of delivering services, counsellors have been able to reach a number of small communities in south-west Queensland that haven’t previously been as accessible,” Mr Tuffield said.

“We have also seen greater engagement from men particularly, due to the less-direct nature of phone counselling services versus the traditional face-to-face practices.

“The use of video conferencing technology for Gambling Help support groups has also been a great success, with increased interest and demand evident for these groups.

“It’s expected many of these innovations would be carried forward post COVID-19 to allow for continued improvement and support to those in need.”

Ms Thomson reminded people of the dangers of online gambling, particularly when it came to the use of offshore gambling products.

“It’s illegal to provide online gambling products, such as ‘online casinos’ to Australians, but that doesn’t stop gamblers being able to access offshore gaming products such as these,” she said.

“If gambling with an offshore company, you’re not protected by Australian Consumer Protection laws and other responsible gambling requirements, which increases the risk of being exposed to unethical practices.

“You may even find that, if you ‘win’, the offshore operator will just refuse to pay out, so you end up losing either way.

“It just isn’t worth the risk.”

If you, a friend or a family member, needs support, contact Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelpqld.org.au