Written by: Wayne Schwass
Gambling is something that affects us all, whether we realise it or not.
As a nation of passionate sports fans, we have seen sport change significantly in recent years. Sport is big business with as much attention focused on results as there is on the commercial benefits it brings. One of the most significant developments has been gambling on sport.
If you love sport, like I do, it's almost impossible to have a conversation without gambling being mentioned whether it's with your mates, odds on the TV, signage at the ground or on the back of team jerseys.
Gambling is part of our DNA and can be an enjoyable form of entertainment. But if we're going to have a punt, we also need to understand and recognise the risks.
This week is Responsible Gambling Awareness Week. It's a time when we should consider how gambling influences our lives.
I've seen first hand the way problem gambling can affect people and those around them.
People who talk about overcoming their issues with gambling, talk about how important it was to have support from loved ones as well as help from professional services like Gambler's Help in their recovery.
There have been a number of high profile sportspeople who have talked about their issues with gambling in recent years which should remind us all of the risks associated with gambling.
Responsible Gambling Awareness Week isn't telling people not to bet. It's about encouraging people to consider the risks, have a plan, set limits and know when to walk away.
It's great to see AFL clubs like North Melbourne and Collingwood leading the way on this issue and committing to education programs like 'Gambling's not a game'. All clubs have a responsibility to educate their stakeholders about a range of social issues including responsible gambling.
Sport is one of my true loves, just as it is for many Victorians. It brings people together and injects a kind of magic into our lives.
I realised during my footy days that sport is a great vehicle for tackling social issues. I want to help start an important conversation about responsible gambling and encourage everyone in the community to come together to ensure the very magic of sport that makes our nation great, isn't overshadowed by issues around gambling.
Responsible Gambling Awareness Week calls on all of us to understand how gambling has changed and to be more aware of the risks so gambling doesn't take over and you can enjoy all aspects of your life.
Find out more at www.rgaw.com.au