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Video #1: Why Do People Gamble?




Playing or watching games, like cards, video games or sport can be great fun. They can bring people together, get people talking about who is the best, teach skills and help share stories, culture and laughter.


When we play those same games with money, and we bet on the outcome of a game then it is called gambling. Playing or watching games or sports and then betting on the outcome of the game with money (or other things of value) is called gambling. It can be very exciting to be watching or playing a game where a lot of money can be won.


Gambling may bring good things to people and their communities, like money, jobs and sports, making them stronger. But, too much gambling may take away what makes people and communities strong. Most people in Australia gamble. There are some people who don’t gamble at all. About half of all the people who do gamble, gamble a lot.



The Law Story with Gambling?

In Australia ALL gambling is against the law unless you have a gaming license. Anything against the law is called “illegal”. Gambling laws were made by the government to protect the Australian community because of the many crimes that were linked to gambling. But, many people in Australia still wanted to gamble. So, the government decided they would allow businesses (like clubs, pubs, TAB’s and casinos) to apply to the government for a gambling license to make money from gambling - as long as they followed certain rules. These gambling businesses are called “regulated gambling venues” (regulated means controlled). They were allowed by law, made “legal” by their license, as long as they followed rules to make sure their gambling games were fair to players and allowed the government to observe and control their activities. Licensed gambling venues include these activities:


  • Poker Card Games run inside a gaming venue
  • Poker Machines in pubs, clubs and casinos
  • KENO
  • Scratchie Tickets eg. Sold at newsagents & other shops
  • Lotto
  • Horse or dog racing
  • Bingo eg. Run for social activity
  • Raffles eg. Often used for raising money for schools and charities.
  • Sports betting with Sportsbet eg. Betting on who will win the next football season? It is illegal to run these without a license.
  • Casino games like roulette and black jack.


These controlled gambling venues run as a money-making business and under Australian law, all have to pay tax to the government. When a business first applies to the government to make money as a controlled gambling venue, they have to agree to:

  • get a gaming license,
  • follow all laws and
  • obey certain rules to protect the community from gambling harms.


If the venue doesn’t, anyone in the community can make a complaint and they will be investigated by the government and may lose their gaming license. In the NT, regulated gambling venues protect the community and keep their gaming license by following the rules set out in a booklet called the NT Code of Practice.


A copy of the NT Code of Practice can be found at the following website:


Some gambling games, like card games, are illegal because they happen without government protection rules, laws or a gaming license. It is called “unregulated gambling”. This type of gambling does not pay any tax to the government and only the people who organise and play the games know when the game happens. People often play this type of gambling for fun and relaxation with friends and family. Only social and kinship rules protect people from possible trouble with these games. These games may include:


  • Card games with money in homes, towns and communities
  • Marbles for money
  • Holey for money
  • Internet gambling

Video #2: What To Do Before Gambling




The Money Story with Gambling

The government has laws that tell regulated gambling venues how much they have to give back to the community, called “community benefit”. This money only comes from gamblers who play poker machines in hotels in the NT. The money is sent to the government and kept in a Community Benefit Fund (CBF). Community groups can ask for money from the CBF to help fund programs or services to help build stronger communities, such as health or sports activities. For example, Amity Community Services asked for money from the Community Benefit Fund to run their Gambling Education Program. Clubs and casinos also give back to the community in different ways and in different amounts. For example, clubs may offer help to local sporting teams. Casinos may support organisations and charities in the community in different ways. Some regulated gambling venues give more back to the community than others.


Regulated gambling venues also have to follow the law by paying tax to the government. The government makes a lot of money from regulated gambling. Some governments in Australia rely a lot on gambling money to run their government. So, people who gamble a lot in gambling venues are some of the biggest tax payers in Australia.


The money that is left in a gambling venue, after community benefit and tax has been paid, goes to the owners of the business. They decide where that money is spent. For example, business owners decide how much goes back into the business for things like staff wages, new buildings or renovations, and where and how much they wish to help their local community. All this money comes from people who gamble in regulated gambling venues. Some of the owners of these businesses live outside Australia and that money is never spent in Australia.



Why do people like to gamble?

There are many reasons why people gamble and everyone has a different story. Some common reasons are:


  • fun
  • entertainment
  • excitement
  • chance to win big money
  • ready cash
  • need to win to feel like a good person
  • takes away boredom
  • helps some people forget sad or bad feelings
  • helps some to forget about worries
  • to be with family and friends



Why people might stop or slow down their gambling?

Some people who gamble a lot, or spend almost all their money, may end up with problems. They may spend so much time gambling that they stop doing what keeps them strong in mind, spirit and culture. After a while, they might think gambling is the only thing they want to do. They might often gamble on their own and try to keep away from their family. They might lie or keep secrets about how much money they have spent or where they have been. They might blame other people for the money they lose. They might blame it on bad luck or the poker machine if they do not win. They might steal and cheat to get more money and have big money worries. These people may start to feel lost. They may forget the way to be strong. They may have lots of worries (or problems) because they are thinking about or gambling so much. They may be called a “problem gambler”. Some problems a gambler might have are:

  • not spending time with families and children
  • not sharing money with family
  • borrowing money to gamble
  • gambling with money you need for food and other important things
  • spending too much time gambling and missing important cultural and family times
  • tricky thinking: gambling to try and win your money back – it mostly does not happen
  • tricky thinking: telling yourself you will win next time – you often don’t


Do you know people who are worried about gambling? Talk to your family and friends and do the things that make you strong again. Find out here if you may need help.



Video #3: Famillies and Gambling



Tricky Thinking

Many people think that they can do things or think things that might change their luck and make them win, like;

  • crossing your fingers
  • talking to the machine
  • rubbing the machine
  • carrying a lucky object when you play
  • having a lucky person with you when you play
  • wearing some lucky clothing

Some people think that kids are lucky and will improve their chances of winning at card games. People sometimes continue to think these things even when they often lose all their money. This is tricky thinking because we want to think we can win even when we are losing. Thinking or doing these things will NOT help change your luck about winning! The only thing that changes your luck is knowledge or skills. Some games don’t have either of these – like poker machines.



Poker Machines


Poker machines (also called “Electronic Gaming Machines” or EGM’s) are made by big businesses and sold to regulated gambling venues (eg. Pubs, clubs & casinos) so they can all make money. They are so good at making money for the business that most clubs and pubs try to get a gaming license. They are so good at making money for gambling venues in the NT that the government has had to protect the community from spending too much money on them by setting a limit on how many are available.


A poker machine is a video game run by a computer for money. When you sit down to play, this computer game uses your money to entertain you and tries to keep you interested in winning a big amount of money. This game does not need any special knowledge or skill to play. Most people only win small amounts of money. They sometimes spend a lot of money to try and get back only a little bit. For example, some people may have won $3000 in one year, but they may have lost their whole pay in one year to get this ($30,000).


It is very difficult to win the jackpot. Being able to win at this game is like finding five white specks of dust, in one go, flying around in a big dust storm. Pretty hard. But the game keeps you interested, and spending money, in the hope of a possible win through its music, moving reels, lights, giving you free spins (you have already paid for them) and special features that make you think you ALMOST won. No one knows when the big jackpot comes – not even the people who made the machine. It is all up to the computer. The computer does not care whether you are playing or not. It is a machine. It just keeps doing its job – which is making an interesting game. So, there is nothing you can do to change your luck with the computer.


Learn more about gaming machines.


Find out more about Poker Machine related harm.


Video #4: Does Gambling Cause Fights?



Ways to reduce troubles related to gambling


  • Talk to family about some rules you might like to make about gambling in your community and in your family to stop trouble
  • Do things that keep you strong in mind, spirit and culture
  • Use Centrelink to keep food money available
  • Go hunting or fishing instead of gambling
  • Put money at the store
  • Don’t borrow money to gamble
  • Pay for food, electricity, fuel and other bills first before gambling
  • Make sure children are safe and well fed before gambling
  • Plan how long you will play for and then go home
  • Only spend money on gambling that is not important
  • Decide how much money you can lose to gambling
  • Don’t take your ATM card to the gambling venue
  • When you win, put it in your pocket straight away and play with only what is left. Don’t put your wins back into the machine
  • Don’t gamble alone
  • Think about what you can buy with extra money saved by not gambling
  • Buy yourself or family something nice instead of gambling
  • Ask for help from family to stop or reduce gambling

Click here for a Self Help Guide to managing your problem gambling


Helping people with gambling worries

Someone who wants to stop gambling or their family who are worried about them may talk to you. If they do:


  • Tell them you care about them
  • Tell them you are worried about them and why
  • Be honest - tell the person how you really feel about them
  • Be willing to listen to their story
  • Find out how gambling makes them feel, why are they doing it?
  • Help them think about things that make them feel strong
  • Help them make a plan to do things that make them feel strong
  • Talk to them about all the ways you and family can help make them stronger
  • Find a way to protect money you need for family from gambling
  • For the gambler: find a way to tell them you will not help them gamble – eg. agree not to give money, but instead, give other things like caring and food; or help them to stop using all their money for gambling
  • Get other family to help
  • Help with money worries by talking to people who know about money and finances

Find out what to do if someone close to you has a gambling problem.

Find out where to get help for problem gambling.


Video #5: Gambling Humbug