The Victorian Responsible Gaming Commission (VRGC) has released new guidelines to help protect Australian consumers from gambling harm during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
Victoria is currently in a shutdown condition in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, with many people being ordered to stay home. The VRGC says it expects an increase in online gambling as people seek to stave off boredom during the shutdown, entertain themselves, de-stress and relieve anxiety, and they are concerned that this could lead to a spike in problem gambling.
In particular, they are concerned that online gambling makes it easier to quickly lose money, as online gaming is available all day. Speaking about their concerns, the chief clinical advisor at the VRGC, Tony Clarkson, said that there were multiple routes into online gambling:
“Many scenarios can lead people to gamble online. During this stressful period, some people may seek escape in a new activity or take up gambling again after a break. Those accustomed to visiting a venue to gamble may try online gambling to manage their urges. Others might choose to participate in different forms of gambling available through various apps and websites.”
Clarkson said that the VRGC had noted the impact of’ personalised’ promotional offers via email, SMS, social media, pop-up ads or a combination of all these, which could make people think more than normal about betting. He added that online gambling may not feel satisfying and the danger is that customers may end up playing more to fulfil an impulse.
Clarkson also said that VRGC had identified other risks such as illegal gambling websites, which operate outside Australian laws and do not comply with national legislation on customer protection. In some cases, consumers were unable to recover winnings, while others saw fraudulent bank transactions. The VRGC advise people to call the 24/7 Gambler’s Support service for confidential help or visit their website for advice on avoiding problem gambling.