Why NSW must use the name Gambling Harm Awareness Week - Alliance for Gambling Reform

Why NSW must use the name Gambling Harm Awareness Week

Why NSW must use the name Gambling Harm Awareness Week

By Anna Bardsley, Gambling Reform Advocate

It’s almost impossible to avoid the Gambling ads that have taken over our airways these days. And we all know what’s coming at the end. A short mumbled message that seems like a hand wash of whatever went before leaving all the ‘responsibility’ with the user. Considering the predatory nature of the gambling industry that’s really, really hard to swallow.

What about the Responsible Service of Gambling? Where does that come in? Is it responsible to air ads that are meant to entrap; that tell you that you still win when you lose? They give you the impression that you can’t lose. 

The gambling industry will not self regulate effectively. The hollow and disingenuous mumbled message at the end of their enticements, Remember to gamble responsibly, is laughable when they clearly see our children and grandchildren as simply a new market to be exploited

When I was gambling the messages were everywhere in poker machine venues. Gamble Responsibly. Before gambling became a problem they didn’t apply to me. I didn’t notice them because I didn’t need to. But later, when I couldn’t stop, when I couldn’t control the time I spent or the money I threw down the throat of those machines, it was a hugely shaming message. It did not help at all, in fact, it drove me further into the shame spiral that comes with a gambling addiction. It made it harder for me to ask for help because I felt all the blame sat with me.

It seems to me that this is a way for the industry to shift responsibility for gambling harm. It’s not us, it must be you. But what about the Responsible Service of Gambling?

The conflict for the industry is evident -- the biggest losers are their best customers; the longest stayers are their best customers. Those of us who are/were not “responsible gamblers” are their best customers.

That’s why it is so important that the name of Responsible Gambling Week is changed in NSW to Gambling Harm Awareness Week. Other states have changed the name already, recognising the importance of language, and of not blaming the victim. 

Given the industry clearly does not give two hoots about the Responsible Service of Gambling, there should be no such thing as a Responsible Gambling Awareness Week either. It’s time for change on many fronts when it comes to gambling harm in NSW. Changing the name of a week is an easy place to start.

While you're here, do you have a minute to ask the Minister to ban loyalty programs?