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Gambling guidelines to help avoid harm

The risk of experiencing negative effects from gambling can be lowered by planning how much you will spend, how often and on what.

While there are no guarantees, people who follow the Lower Risk Gambling Guidelines experience less harm and a greater sense of wellbeing, as do their family and friends.

The guidelines

The three guidelines, when followed together, can help reduce the risk of negative consequences from gambling.

Adapted for the Australian market, the Lower Risk Gambling Guidelines are:

  • gamble no more than two per cent of your take home pay – AND
  • gamble no more than once a week – AND
  • gamble on no more than two different types of products.

Gambling budget ready reckoner

The table below shows the recommended maximum weekly spend on gambling activities in relation to income. The guidelines recommend a spend of no more than two per cent of take-home pay, which is the amount you receive after tax.

Weekly take home pay Maximum weekly gambling spend
$500 $10
$750 $15
$1,000 $20
$1,500 $30
$2,000 $40
$2,500 $50

Gambling products

Products include pokies, sports betting, horse racing, table games (e.g. roulette, poker, blackjack), online poker and slot machines, bingo, lotteries and scratch tickets.

The guidelines recommend using no more than two products in any given week.

Why do we need guidelines?

Gambling industry tactics and products like pokies, sports betting and casino table games are designed to keep people gambling – and losing – more than they intend. This can lead to a range of harms, such as financial stress, relationship problems, psychological distress, and work or study issues.

The Lower Risk Gambling Guidelines support people to make informed decisions about the way they gamble in order to avoid harm.

Development of the guidelines

The Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse and Addiction (CCSA) led a research project to develop the gambling guidelines. Overseen by an international advisory group, the CCSA analysed data from Australia (Victoria), Canada, Finland, France, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden and the USA.

The research produced a set of limits for gambling and identified special risk populations and contextual factors. These are the Lower Risk Gambling Guidelines. For more information, visit

Victorian guidelines

The Victorian limits have been adjusted for the local context while remaining compliant with the international guidelines.

For example, the Canadian guidelines recommend that people spend no more than one per cent of their pre-tax household income on gambling. The Victorian guidelines recommend that people spend no more than two per cent of their take-home pay on gambling.

Not for everyone

The guidelines are suitable for most people, but for those at high risk of experiencing harm, not gambling may be a better option. This includes people who:

  • have issues with alcohol or other drugs
  • experience mental health issues such as anxiety or depression
  • have a personal or family history of gambling harm.

People who struggle with gambling are encouraged to contact the 24/7 Gambler’s Helpline on 1800 858 858 for free and confidential advice, support and referral or visit

Frequently asked questions

  • 1. What is the aim of the guidelines?

    The guidelines provide evidence-based recommendations for lowering the risk of harm from gambling. They recommend limits on the spend, frequency and number of products a consumer uses. All three guidelines must be followed together to be effective.

  • 2. Why are they needed?

    The design and promotion of high-risk high-harm products like pokies, sports betting and casino table games encourage people to keep gambling – and losing – more than they intend. The guidelines can help people protect themselves from this happening.

  • 3. Are the guidelines for people who only gamble socially?

    People who gamble socially can experience harm, but by following the guidelines, the risk is reduced. The guidelines are the product of scientific rigour and represent enormous progress in helping people to protect themselves from gambling harm.

  • 4. The guidelines are surprisingly low. Are they realistic?

    The guidelines may surprise the community, especially people who routinely gamble at levels that exceed the recommended limits.

    For some products, like alcohol and gambling, there is no 100 per cent safe level of use. However, there are levels of consumption that are less risky. The guidelines set out this important information for people who gamble.

  • 5. Do the guidelines apply to everyone?

    The guidelines are backed by strong evidence and suitable for most people. However, not gambling may be a better option for people whose wellbeing could be severely affected by gambling.

    People considered at high risk of harm include those who:

    • experience anxiety, depression or other mental health issues
    • struggle with alcohol, cannabis or other substance use issues
    • have a personal or family history of gambling harm
    • have a low income
    • gamble to escape their problems.

    The guidelines are unlikely to assist anyone who has a gambling addiction or is experiencing severe gambling harm. People in this situation are advised to seek treatment and support.

    Gambler’s Help is free, confidential and available 24/7 on 1800 858 858. More information and a range of resources are also available from

  • 6. Are people who follow the guidelines guaranteed not to experience harm?

    There are no guarantees. However, when all three limits are followed, research shows the guidelines are effective in reducing the risk of harm from gambling.

    Research has found that people who exceed the gambling limits are 3–20 times more likely to experience harm than those who follow them.

  • 7. Is it necessary to follow all the limits, or is it okay to choose one or two?

    The limits operate together, so all three need to be followed to be effective.

  • 8. Where can I find out more about the guidelines?

    To learn more about the Lower Risk Gambling Guidelines, including the science behind their development, visit

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