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Teacher professional development session

Voice over: Welcome to Talking to Young People About Gambling, a professional development resource designed to support teachers help their students develop informed attitudes towards gambling as they approach adulthood.

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation is working towards reducing harm from gambling in our community by building greater awareness and understanding of the risks involved. We work with young people, educators, coaches and parents to provide information and practical resources to prepare young people before they reach legal gambling age.

Our school education program is one of a suite of Love the Game prevention programs that raise awareness about the way young people are being increasingly exposed to gambling. Unlike when we were growing up, our students are immersed in an environment where gambling has never been so heavily promoted and accessible, especially through sports. This makes it feel like a normal part of the game to students and harder for them to recognise potential harms.

Mieke: So my favourite sport is netball but I also love footy

Jesse: I play basketball and

Texas: football

Tharanya: My team is Melbourne Storm

Texas: St Kilda are at $3.50 this weekend

Mieke: Hawks to win by 10 points

Jesse: I'll bet you they won't

Mieke: It's pretty much a sure bet

Texas: The Bulldogs are at $2.75

Isaiah: It's just a part of sport

Voice over: Gambling advertising is changing the way our kids see sport. Let's help them love the game, not the odds. Find out how to protect them from the risks. Visit Authorised by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Melbourne.

We want your students to love the game and not the odds. Betting advertising is changing the way they see sport. The amount of advertising they're being exposed to on a daily basis is putting them at risk.

Young people don't always see the difference between ads and reality and can see betting is a quick fun way to make money. How many sports betting ads have you seen in the last week? During the first round of the AFL in 2016, The Age reported that one in six ads on free-to-air television promoted betting brands. The Australian gambling industry spent over $234,000,000 on advertising in 2016.

Look closely at these ads and you'll see a betting agency trying to entice potential customers by using special offers like cashback, bonus bets and other incentives. But what these types of ads don't mention are the terms and conditions that are often too difficult to find. When you take a closer look at these types of conditions you can see they are designed to encourage players to gamble more and take riskier bets. Apart from special offers, betting ads also use celebrity endorsements that may appeal to underage viewers like this sporting bet ad featuring Shane Warne and Mick Molloy which paints gambling as a fun, normal thing to do with your mates.

The truth is that you can't stop your students from being exposed to ads like this but what you can do is encourage them to think critically about the ads they see.

We'll look at ways you can do this a little later but first let's see what else might be making gambling feel more normal, like digital games that look like gambling, how accessible gambling is and the people in your students’ lives.

Starting with digital games there are apps and video games that look like gambling and use odds that may give young players the false impression that it's easy to win. Are there any apps or video games that you've seen lately that remind you of gambling? With thousands of free apps and video games like this, working out the difference between gaming and gambling is getting harder. Can you tell which one is the fake app and which one is the real online gambling website? It’s not easy, is it? Image A is a screenshot from a real online gambling site. Technically these are illegal in Australia so these sites are operated from overseas meaning there's no consumer protection for Australian players.

Image B is a screenshot from a fake gambling app called Slots Mania. Australian research shows teens playing these types of apps may think gambling is a normal everyday activity, be more inclined to take it up and be more confident about winning due to the false beliefs about the odds of winning. Ads on many of these apps lead to real gambling sites creating easy pathways to the real thing. On top of this, there are in-app purchases. Even though teens can't win real money from these apps, they can spend real money on in-app purchases to boost their chances in the game.

These often cost only a few dollars but a player immersed in the game can quickly rack up expenses. Video games like The Sims and Grand Theft Auto and even free games on Nintendo DS consoles feature gambling by including casino and poker machine elements, all of which makes it feel like a game without much risk involved.

Let's look at access. Gone are the days where if you're an adult wanting to bet you had to go to the ATM then head to your local sports betting agency and hand over cold hard cash. With a smartphone or tablet, people can gamble online wherever, whenever. What message is this sending to your students?

When something is easily accessible you often think it's normal and relatively harmless but of course we know that's not the case for gambling. Australian research tells us that up to 80 percent of 13 to 17 year-olds had gambled in the past year.

This includes things like betting with friends, playing lottery tickets, raffles and sweeps but it also included more risky forms of gambling like playing the pokies and betting on racing and sports. Influential people in your student’s life including their friends, family and you as their teacher, may shape their attitudes. Betting is often considered a social activity and research shows that six out of ten young people who bet do so with at least one other person, usually a friend. Family members may strongly influence whether students start to gamble. Research suggests that students from families that bet frequently are more likely to do so themselves. Of course teachers can be influential role models in their students’ lives and help them develop informed attitudes.

It's important to realise that your students’ attitudes towards gambling are being shaped right now by all these influences we've just discussed. These attitudes might also be shaped by myths about the level of risk involved and the chances of winning. Market research with young males identified myths like a person can develop a gambling problem only if they have a certain personality type. The important thing to remember here is that anyone can experience difficulty at any time regardless of their personality type. An individual's characteristics are only one of many factors that may influence their gambling behaviour.

Another myth is if you gamble with friends you are unlikely to get into serious difficulties but we know that being with friends does not protect someone from running into trouble. There is no safety in numbers when it comes to gambling. There’s also a myth that betting on sports isn't as risky as other forms of gambling because it involves skill.

This stems from a common misconception that a player has some level of control over their chances of winning based on their knowledge of the game or sport but knowing a lot about a certain game or sport doesn't guarantee a win. No matter how much you know and regardless of your perceived skill level, there's no such thing as a sure bet. So what can you do? The good news is you're in a really good position to help your students develop informed attitudes to gambling and we're here to show you how.

Let's support them to get ahead of the game, act now and help them understand how it really works including the risks involved. Similar to other potential health issues like drinking, it's not just about preventing them from developing a problem but also helping them to avoid all forms and severity of gambling harm. We understand that as teachers you're very busy people and you're probably thinking “great, here's another thing I need to think about”. We want to make it easy and straightforward for you to do so, so we've come up with a really simple guide called ‘Talk’ because like any other health and well-being issue, that's essentially what we're encouraging you to do, talk to your students about it.

T in our Talk guide stands for ‘think’. Think about how your students’ attitudes are being shaped now by the sports they watch, what access they might have, the influence games have that look like gambling and the people in their life.

‘A’ in our tour guide is for ‘adopt’. Adopt a gambling policy that might include strategies like hosting free face-to-face information sessions for parents and students. The parent information session can inform parents about the key issues related to gambling and young people and how they can help their child develop informed attitudes. The senior student workshop is designed for year ten to twelve students including VCAL. This session encourages students to become critical thinkers in an environment where betting is becoming increasingly normalised. You can book any of these free sessions on our website. Another strategy to include in your school's gambling policy is incorporating our units of work in your school's curriculum planning. These units cover a variety of subject areas for senior years and are regularly updated on our website. Also available on our website are useful resources for parents. You could include a strategy about encouraging parents to use these in your policy. Lastly, consider including a strategy encouraging staff to be mindful of their own gambling attitudes and behaviour when working with students and approach the topic in a balanced and objective way so as not to normalise or stigmatise gambling.

‘L’ is for look. Look for opportunities in your own classroom to incorporate this topic. We have a variety of curriculum-based units at work to link this important student welfare topic to your subject area. These resources have been piloted by teachers like yourselves and are available on our website. See what teachers and students have to say about these.

Suzanne: The units were actually really well written. I find that the curriculum documents are very relevant to the VCAL outcomes.

David: This unit is mapped to the curriculum, easy for teachers to pick up and run with it. It's great to see students working together, really talking about the risks and I think some of the group work involved in this unit really helps foster those conversations.

Nathanael: All the material that is given to you was quite fun to run with the students. Different type of activities inside that unit really encouraged other students that normally don't really participate to join in the conversation and the discussion about gambling itself.

Male student: Today we had a session and we found out what's really true and what's not true about gambling.

Female student: It's better to actually love the game instead of what's behind it because the game's always better.

Male student: I enjoyed the videos, it’s pretty interesting.

Male student: I enjoyed doing my research of the sporting club programs.

Female student: I learnt that even if you know a game, you're not always certain that you’ll win the bet.

Male student: The thing that I learnt was that odds are never in your favour, you’re always likely to lose before you win the game.

The curriculum-based units we currently offer can be mapped to a range of VCAL strands including personal development, numeracy and literacy as well as year 10 humanities and well-being along with health and human development in VCE.

Top tips in using these units and talking to students about gambling include focus on helping students develop informed attitudes rather than telling them what they should and shouldn't do. Also you may be working with students under 18 so it's best to talk more about their gambling attitudes as opposed to their behaviour as this might send the wrong message that betting underage is normal.

When broadcasting the concept of risk, be mindful that often students are of the opinion they won't run into serious trouble so try to talk about a range of harms from gambling particularly more immediate everyday examples such as being unable to purchase items they value like going out with mates or the latest smartphone. Avoid mentioning specific brand names as this may inadvertently promote the company in question instead think about different categories of gambling such as sports betting lotteries and pokies remember that anyone can develop a problem with gambling regardless of age gender or personality type even young people can run into trouble keep this in mind when teaching these units to avoid reinforcing existing myths and stereotypes. If you become concerned that gambling may be an issue for one of your students or their family and friends you can refer them to our free and confidential Gamblers Help youth line support service. Gambling can be a polarising topic. When teaching students, try to remain objective and avoid talking about your own personal views or gambling behaviour. It can also be a sensitive topic for students.

We'd recommend you and your class set some ground rules together to promote a safe learning space covering things like how to fairly and respectfully participate in class discussions, what's appropriate to disclose in the classroom and what students can do if they feel uncomfortable. Now we move on to our fourth and final step in our Talk guide which is to know when gambling might be becoming a concern and where to seek help. Anyone can develop a problem with gambling regardless of gender age or personality type. Even young people can run into difficulty.

Research tells us that 3 to 4 percent of teenagers in Australia have a problem with gambling which is equivalent to one student in every high school classroom. The fact that young people are experiencing difficulty suggests to us that it is really better to start talking to your students about this important well-being topic sooner rather than later. Research tells us that 1 in 5 adults clinically diagnosed with a gambling problem started before they were 18. Matt talked about how gambling was a problem for him and that he started before he was 18.

Matt: My biggest ever win was $16,000. That's that feeling a chance that you can win is just probably one of the best feelings that you could ever feel. I lost that $16,000 in in two days. In 7 to 8 years of my gambling I lost over $300,000. When I first started gambling I was underage. It was a game of poker with my mates. I think it was a 17 or 16 of his own it's the hardest thing in the world is admitting you've got a problem and asking for help but I'll turn around and say it is the best decision that I've ever made.

Voice over: So how would you know if it was becoming a concern for one of your students? Let's discuss some of the signs to look out for.

Tony: One of them is missing school, that's one of the first things that tends to drop off. Also kids can become increasingly obsessed with simulated gambling apps and games. They may no longer be interested in just going to watch a 50 match or a soccer match, they're starting to talk about who's gonna win, how much money you may make if that team wins, what kind of odds to put on this team or that team.

Another thing is depression and the onset of sort of you know negative attitudes. You get a young person who's staying in the room all the time, who has not seen their friends at all, who's not really looking after themselves, they’ve stopped talking to you, they’ve stopped talking to their friends and when you do question them you'll get quite negative sometimes quite angry responses.

Voice over: We understand that some of the signs referred to here could indicate a range of health issues however it's good to be aware that a possible cause may be gambling related. If you notice any of the signs mentioned here it's important to address them sooner rather than later. You can check out our dedicated website or call our Gamblers Help youth line which is a free service available 24/7.

You can refer a student or a concerned parent to this service or access it yourself to seek helpful advice and support. Remember that a student might be experiencing harm because of someone else's gambling and can contact youth line or visit this site. So remember your handy Talk guide: think about how your students attitudes towards gambling are being shapes now, adopt a school gambling policy, look for opportunities in your curriculum planning to incorporate this topic, know when it might be becoming a concern and where to seek help. Together we can build greater awareness and understanding of the risks involved. If you'd like to know more about the range of topics we've covered today and research about young people and gambling visit our Love the Game website.

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