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Problem gamblers stretch Vinnies counselling resources

The St Vincent de Paul Society in NSW is appealing for help before new legislation comes in to force that will pleace increased demands on its counselling service for compulsive gamblers.

The Catholic Weekly reports that under new legislation, by 2 October, every club, hotel and casino with poker machines will need to have entered into arrangements with an organisation like Vinnies' GAME to provide counselling services for members and patrons.

At present, the service is helping more than 100 problem gamblers a month. Vinnies says the increasing call on its services has not been matched by increased funding to provide those services.

Under the new legislation, each venue will have to have a sign directing gamblers towards a counselling service, which will, of course, place more demands on organisations like GAME.

"We suspect that at that point the problem will become horrendous," says GAME's general manager and director of therapy, Eva Fera.

She believes that gambling addiction is often a symptom of some other condition.

"A lot of gamblers have other problems," she said. "It can be psychological. I have had problem gamblers who were also perpetrators of sexual abuse of children.

Vinnies (NSW/ACT)

Catholic Weekly

19 Jul 2002