Cases of youth gambling increasing at Gambling Treatment Clinic

27 May 2015

The number of young clients at the University of Sydney's Gambling Treatment Clinic has more than doubled in the last three years, a marked increase in youth problem gamblers aged 18-25.

The University offers advice and one-on-one counselling through its Camperdown clinic and through services in Lidcombe, Parramatta and Campbelltown, Numbers of young clients receiving intensive counselling have gone from 23 to 50 cases from 2012 to 2014.

"Young people had always been a minority of our clients," said Dr Christopher Hunt, clinical psychologist at the clinic. "But what we are finding is that over the past few years they have been one of our most rapidly expanding client groups. The numbers are growing much faster than our general client numbers, and we are on track to have even larger numbers of youth gamblers coming through our doors this year."

Responsible Gambling Awareness Week (RGAW), being held in NSW from 25-31 May, has a focus on youth gambling, which Dr Hunt notes should be a priority for treatment services.

"What we are seeing as gambling is moving more to online platforms and onto smartphones, people are becoming caught up in gambling problems at much younger ages. This is also coinciding with the increase in promotion of sports betting, which may also add to the attraction of gambling for young people."

'John', a 23-year-old client of the clinic who gambles both on poker machines and online (on sports) said:
I first got into gambling socially, where I won big and began to feel I could win more. As I started to gamble more it began to take an emotional and physical toll, and I became unmotivated both at work and at uni. Coming to therapy has helped me see that gambling is just a short term thrill followed by long term pain.

Dr Hunt recommends that young gamblers who are starting to get into trouble with gambling talk to a professional who can help with the problem:

"What we often find is that many of our older clients started gambling problematically at a young age, so we really want to emphasise to young people to look out for the signs that gambling might be a problem for them and to work on it before it gets out of hand. Free treatment services are available throughout NSW, including at our clinic at the University of Sydney."

The University of Sydney Gambling Treatment Clinic can be contacted on 1800 482 482. It is funded by the NSW government's Responsible Gambling Fund.

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