Are your most regular gamblers your problem gamblers? According to the Productivity Commission’s Report into Gambling, around 3 to 4% of all gamblers face difficulties ‘at least sometimes’ in controlling their gambling. For instance, around 1 in 25 gamblers play on after reaching a self-imposed limit and have difficulty in stopping themselves from playing.
Generally, the immediate source of harm, for most consumers, is excess expenditure associated with control problems and false cognitions. These are gambling losses in excess of the amount they would have spent had they played with control and with good knowledge about the service they were buying. This disability to control their spending habits, on a high scale basis, is what can create the Problem Gambler.
Therefore, as the stakes get higher – the longer they play, people who gamble regularly have a much higher likelihood (around 30%) of experiencing control problems, and indeed around 7.5% of them experience these difficulties often or always. This likelihood is higher for those gamblers playing gaming machines weekly or more often. Estimated nearly 1 in 3 at least sometimes say they have a control problem, and 1 in 10 admits they often or always do.
Finally, gradated report data shows that control problems appear to accelerate based on the greater the level of exposure to gaming machines. The casualty may go both ways. More frequent players may develop control problems, or gamblers with control problems may play more frequently. Either way, these results mean that a significant proportion of the people who gamble, or that venue staff see playing regularly, may have control problems with their gambling. This suggests policy and voluntary measures put in place, by venues and the gambling industry, should attempt to target those who regularly gamble.
These measures are currently supported in the form of implementing training and knowledge of Responsible Gaming Services – outlining the symptoms of problem gambling and the recommended measures that can be implemented, to aid those that may be affected by control issues.