Gambling and harm prevention during COVID-19
Statement from the Gambling and Racing Commission Chair
The closure of gambling venues in the ACT on 23 March 2020 as part of COVID-19 physical distancing measures means that Canberrans are currently unable to visit our community clubs, hotels or the casino, whether for a meal, to catch up with friends or to gamble.
The Commission recognises that the abrupt cessation of in-venue gambling will affect people differently. For some people the closure of venues has removed enjoyable activities and a place to connect with others. Conversely the current restrictions may prove a helpful opportunity to break the cycle for people who have been struggling with their gambling. However, this may also be accompanied by distress and other health and wellbeing issues for individuals and families.
The prevention and reduction of gambling harm underpins all the Commission’s roles and functions. We want to ensure Canberrans are aware that they can continue to access support and information throughout this shutdown period and as gambling restrictions ease. Now might be a good time for those people who are struggling, to look into the support that is available and take steps to protect themselves into the future.
As plans and preparations are made for venues to re-open, it is also a good time for licensees to review their harm prevention and reduction processes. It is important for venues to provide a supportive and safe environment for patrons as they return, and to make sure patrons are aware of the assistance that is available so they can seek help if they feel they need to.
The Commission is also committed to ensuring people are aware of the risks associated with different types of gambling, so we can make informed decisions and choices. The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation website has information on knowing the risks of online gambling.
Illegal and loosely regulated overseas websites pose additional risk as they do not comply with Australian consumer protection standards.
For information about consumer protection for online wagering visit the ACMA website
People who are having difficulties might like to explore self-help information and strategies, join a forum or chat to a counsellor at Gamblinghelponline.org.au
The ACT Gambling Counselling and Support Service have phone counselling sessions available. Face-to-face appointments are also available, adhering to physical distancing requirements.
To speak to a counsellor on the phone or make a time to see a counsellor, call the National Gambling Helpline 1800 858 858.
The ACT Health website has tips for maintaining good mental health and information on how to access mental health services during COVID-19.
The Commission is dedicated to working with the ACT Government, venues, service providers and the community to ensure the process of reintroducing in-venue gambling in the ACT is founded upon strong gambling harm prevention and reduction measures.
Chairperson, ACT Gambling and Racing Commission
Strategy for gambling harm prevention in the ACT – a public health approach, 2019-2024
The prevention and reduction of gambling harm are core objectives of the Gambling and Racing Commission. Providing effective gambling harm prevention initiatives in the ACT is pivotal and underpins the Commission’s roles and functions.
This Strategy has evolved from years of academic research and widespread support for a public health approach to reducing gambling related harm. It also provides a roadmap for the Commission to work towards achieving our vision of a Canberra free from gambling harm.
Gambling harm is about more than just losing money. It is any negative consequence, caused by gambling or made worse by gambling.
These negative effects could damage the health or wellbeing of an individual, their family or their community.
Here you can find out more about gambling harm and support options.