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Why do I gamble?

Being aware of why you gamble can be very helpful if you want to change.

There are four main reasons why people gamble:

For social reasons – This may be because it’s what a group of friends do when they get together, or because it makes a social gathering more enjoyable.

For financial reasons – to win money, because someone enjoys thinking about what they would do if they won a jackpot, or because winning would change someone’s lifestyle.

For entertainment reasons – because they like the feeling, to get that rush or “high”, or because it makes them feel good.

For coping reasons – for someone to forget their worries, because they feel more self-confident, or because it helps when they are feeling nervous or depressed.

Want to know your reasons? Check the answers below to find out:

  1. Do you gamble…?
Please answer all questions.

You can also look at other options to help yourself and find out about what support is available.

For immediate help call 1800 858 858. It’s free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Social reasons:

Gambling may be a form of recreation with friends or family or driven by your desire for social contact. You may benefit from other activities to share with family or friends. Or ask them to support your efforts to gamble less. You could also work towards developing new friendships.

Financial reasons:

You reported gambling as a way to win money. You may need to look at other ways of managing your money and dealing with your debts. Financial counsellors are also available to help you.

Entertainment reasons:

If you like gambling because of the positive feelings you get when you gamble, like excitement and enjoyment. You may also gamble impulsively without worrying about the consequences. You may need to find new ways to feel good, as well as ways to avoid getting carried away by the fun of gambling.

Coping reasons:

You reported gambling as a way of coping with your feelings or other problems. Gambling may provide a short-term escape but will result in an increase in negative feelings in the long run. You may need to learn to manage negative feelings without gambling, learn to relax or unwind, or look for non-harmful activities to fill your time.

Gambling triggers

Understanding the types of situations that can make you want to gamble can be very valuable in helping you to gamble less. When you are aware of your triggers, you can plan strategies to deal with each of these situations

Some common triggers to make people want to gamble include:

  • Relationship difficulties – You may gamble when you are in conflict with the people in your life. You might benefit from leaving the situation, being assertive, or getting help from other people. If this is a problem in the long-term, it may be necessary to improve your skills in communication, conflict management or try counselling.
  • Worrying about debts – Having the belief that the only way to get money is by gambling, will likely worsen your financial state and trigger more gambling. You can break this cycle by creating a budget or exploring other ways of managing your money. Financial counselling may also be helpful to build some more long-term solutions.
  • Experiencing unpleasant feelings – You may gamble to escape from, or cope with, feelings such as depression, loneliness or frustration. Gambling may provide short-term relief but will result in an increase in negative feelings in the long run. You may need to identify and change your negative thoughts. You could identify some alternative activities that you enjoy and try to do these more often.
  • Using alcohol or drugs – You may gamble more when you have been drinking or taking drugs. You could explore the relationship between alcohol or substance use and gambling. Does drinking/drug use trigger your gambling? Or does gambling trigger your drinking/drug use? Or both? Research suggests there is a relationship between alcohol and riskier types of gambling as well as making it harder to stop or stick to limits. Making a plan with a counsellor could be a great way to help change your habits.
  • Feeling confident in your gambling skill – You may gamble more when you are confident about your skill or believe that a system could help you to win at gambling. You may need to address some mistaken beliefs about how odds work. It is also helpful to figure out how much money you’ve spent overall, rather than focusing on individual wins. Check out the gambling calculator to see how you compare to the average Australian.
  • Certain social situations – You may gamble when people around you want you to gamble. You may need to find alternative activities to do with friends or discover other possibilities for socialising. You might also need to be assertive in resisting social pressure to gamble and ask other people to support your efforts to change.