Victorian employers are being urged to protect themselves and their workers with new evidence showing gambling is a growing risk for business.
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation says the changing nature of gambling means businesses are becoming more vulnerable to issues arising from problem gambling.
Foundation chief executive, Serge Sardo says while gambling is not on the agenda for most employers, the rise of online gambling means gambling in the workplace is an increasing reality, and so are the risks.
"Gambling at work used to mean going off site at lunch or calling a bookie from the office but with the internet, workers can use smart phones, tablets and even office computers to gamble anytime.
"With one in 100 employees likely to have a gambling problem there is no room for employers to think 'it can't happen here'," he said.
The Foundation is focusing on gambling in the workplace during Responsible Gambling Awareness Week - 26 May to 1 June - with a warning that the changing nature of gambling presents three challenges to business.
"The first is productivity with workers with gambling problems likely to suffer from distraction, fatigue and depression, all affecting work performance while the second is financial where people in the grip of gambling problems can commit theft and fraud to keep their habit going," he said.
A review of fraud and financial criminal cases in Australia's higher courts between 2008 and 2010 found $77 million lost, with employers the biggest victims of gambling related crime.1
"The third as yet untested but very real risk is around occupational health and safety where an employee could sue an employer for failing to provide a safe workplace if company supplied equipment is used to gamble," he said.
While the risks are real, there are some simple things a business can do to manage the risk.
"By putting in place clear policies and educating staff, businesses can protect themselves and their workers," said Mr Sardo.
The Foundation has developed a new workplace kit, Gambling and the workplace, which includes tips for developing a workplace gambling policy and information for employees on where to get help for gambling problems.
The Gambling and the workplace kit along with a discussion paper on the issue are available at www.rgaw.com.au.