Gambling Harm Awareness Week (19–25 October), which this year coincides with AFL Grand Final week, was today launched at a virtual event highlighting the risks sports betting can pose to young men, including footy players.
Speaking at the launch, following three months in the Queensland hubs, was incoming Head of AFL Victoria Brad Scott, who will start in the role on 1 November. Mr Scott’s illustrious footy career has spanned the roles of player, coach and administrator.
‘Young men are risk takers. Young men who earn a significant amount of money, who have lots of free time and are constantly being fed sports betting promotions on their phones and elsewhere can easily fall into the trap of risky gambling,’ Mr Scott said.
‘It’s important to talk openly about these risks and the potential consequences, not only to inform young people about them, but to ensure they can – and do – ask for help if needed.’
Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation chief executive Shane Lucas agreed, drawing attention to the ongoing Gambling Harm Awareness Week theme – Talk.Share.Support.
‘Talking is key to demystifying and destigmatising gambling harm, the effects of which are often compounded by the co-occurrence of other issues, such as excessive alcohol consumption, use of illicit drugs and mental health conditions,’ Mr Lucas said.
‘The temporary shutdown of sporting competitions and gaming venues during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped some people affected by gambling harm to change their gambling behaviour. Others, though, have struggled with urges to gamble and been negatively affected by greater participation in online gambling options.
‘Some people are gambling as a way to cope with stress related to social isolation, mental health issues, money worries and job insecurity. Frequently, though, the outcome is further harm to the person who gambles and their loved ones.’
Mr Lucas said that personal stories of recovery provided hope, comfort, strength and encouragement to people experiencing gambling harm. And he expressed his thanks and gratitude to those who have generously shared their written and video stories online.
‘In addition, this year we’re delighted that several of our AFL Love the Game partners are supporting Gambling Harm Awareness Week, including through videos recorded by players such as Geelong FC’s Harry Taylor and Richmond’s Shane Edwards, as well as coaches like Collingwood FC’s Nathan Buckley and the Western Bulldogs’ Luke Beveridge.’
More information about Gambling Harm Awareness Week is available here. Anyone negatively affected by their own or someone else’s gambling is encouraged to call Gambler’s Help on 1800 858 858 for free, confidential advice and support 24/7.