On the back of recent reviews of gaming machine spend on the Central Coast, Coast Community Connections’ free gambling counselling service, Gambling Solutions, confirms that it is experiencing an increase in demand for its services each and every day.
A recent NSW Government report identified the Central Coast and specifically the Peninsula area as having “a high gambling risk” and Gambling Solutions, funded by the Responsible Gambling Fund, has doubled its support staff in the last two years.
Theresa Mason, Chief Executive Officer of Coast Community Connections, said that the Gambling Solutions team, made up of four therapeutic counsellors and one financial counsellor, is pleased with the recently announced state government reforms to increase funding and introduce local community poker machine caps in New South Wales.
“This month, the NSW Government has announced a range of proposed changes to liquor and gaming legislation and our Gambling Solutions team enthusiastically welcome this improved focus on reducing the risk of uncontrolled gambling in the local community,” said Ms Mason.
“Just in the last six to eight months, our counsellors have seen a large increase in the demand for counselling support as a result of poker machine gambling addiction, particularly for those living on the Peninsula,” she added.
Despite 2017 seeing a reduction in the number of gaming machines on the Central Coast, registered clubs and pubs have seen an increase in spend on machines.
The Department of Liquor and Gaming’s half-yearly Gaming Machine Reports* indicate that for the period of December 2016 to May 2017 Central Coast pubs and clubs recorded a total net profit on gaming of more than $128 million. In the -following months of June to November 2017 these same venues recorded $135 million - an increase of more than $7 million just on the Central Coast.
“Our Gambling Solutions team are seeing day in and day out the effect that problem gambling has on the individual, their family and friends. Any government support to assist with community education or reducing the risk of problem gambling on locals is encouraged,” continued Ms Mason.
“Our counselling team has grown two-fold in the past two years to keep up with the increased need for support. Aside from our Gambling Solutions counsellors, we have also introduced a financial counsellor to the team to assist with information, support and advocacy to assist people in financial difficulty,” she added.
The recent reforms from the state government come in addition to the changes made in January to bolster the Responsible Gambling Fund to support responsible gambling.
“Although the gambling landscape has changed significantly in the last decade beyond just poker machines, our Gambling Solutions team support any initiative that aims to minimise the risk of gambling related harm in our local community,” concluded Ms Mason.