Recognising a problem gambler

Can you recognise a problem gambler?Over the years working in the gaming industry, both as a Customer Liaison Officer and at Club Training Australia there is one question that I have been asked the most … “Matt, how do I recognise a problem gambler?” and to be honest it has to be one of the biggest and hardest questions that we face when delivering Responsible Service of Gambling.

When dealing with compliance issues it is exceptionally important that we are continuingly looking to improve the skill level of our staff in being able to recognise the signs of a problem gambler.  However it may not be that easy in some situations. The Gaming Act itself states that a “where there are reasonable grounds for a licensee to believe that the peace and happiness of a person’s family are endangered due to playing of gaming machines by the person, the licensee may give that person a ‘self exclusion order’ and details of at least one problem gambling service” (section 261).

There are a few instances when a venue must act, here are just a few:-

  • if a patron approaches a staff member directly
  • if a family member or relative approaches a staff member
  • if a patron asks to borrow money or if a staff member see the signs stated in the above quote of the act!

The best way I have been able to recognise the signs of a problem gambler is seeing the signs displayed externally! Always be on the lookout for a patron taking repeated trips to the ATM or becoming emotional whilst playing on a gaming machine. Even some of the cries for help they may show during a cheeky conversation like “there goes the rent again” or “I’ve paid your wages today!”. These may sound like jokes but are they actually asking for your help?

Remember it is the law to act on any sign a patron makes that may indicate they have a problem being able to control their gaming. Undertake a Responsible Service of Gambling (RSG) training course for detailed information on recognising the signs of problem gambling.