Gambling Away Our Wellbeing

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3rd November 2009, 12:01am - Views: 392
EMBARGOED: Tuesday 3 November, 12:01 am

Gambling away our wellbeing

New research has revealed that gambling once a week or more is bad for wellbeing.

According to the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index, 15 percent of Australians gamble as often as once a week or more and these people tend to have low wellbeing. However while gambling on your own is associated with low wellbeing, gambling in the company of family or friends is not.

"People who regularly gamble on their ownthat is, once a week or moretend to
have low wellbeing, but this doesn't apply for people who gamble on their own less oftenthat is, no more than once a month," says Professor Bob Cummins from Deakin University, author of the Wellbeing Index.

"It's possible that people who often gamble by themselves are lonely and that they gamble to be around other people. But without establishing a meaningful connection, simply being around other people doesn't alleviate loneliness."

The research shows that the people who are most likely to gamble on their own are people who live by themselves, people who are divorced, people who are separated, people who are widowed, people with an income of less than $15,000 and people who are over the age of 75.

"It's likely that many of these people are living in difficult circumstances and as a result have low wellbeing. This shows that the low overall wellbeing of people who gamble alone probably has more to do with their inadequate social connection than with gambling itself," Professor Cummins says.

Regardless of the reason for gambling, Steve Davis, head of Australian Unity Personal Financial Services, says that while problem gamblers could benefit from professional financial advice, most cannot afford to get advice and by far the most important thing is to first utilise other support networks and services to help break the gambling cycle.

"Presumably, people who spend a lot of time gambling are regularly confronted with the disappointment of losing money. It seems self evident that this behaviour harms your financial wellbeing, and the Wellbeing Index shows that it can also have a negative impact on your personal wellbeing," Mr Davis says.

"If you, or your partner, are gambling to the detriment of your family's finances, once you have your gambling under control it might help to see a financial adviser or finance consultant who can help you to manage your money and restructure your debts to help you repay loans faster."

According to the Wellbeing Index, nearly half of all Australians gamble at some pointwhether it be on a daily basis or just occasionallyand although their wellbeing is within the normal range, they still have lower wellbeing than people who never gamble. The research also shows that only 7.4 percent of gamblers believe that gambling makes their life worse.

Mr Davis says that it is important that people are realistic about their gambling habits and regularly evaluate the impact it is having on their personal and financial wellbeing.

"Many of us enjoy a punt every now and then, particularly during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, but when it starts to have a negative effect on your financial security it's important to seek help and advice to keep your financial wellbeing in check," Mr Davis says.

The research also shows that gamblers with spiritual or religious beliefs have lower wellbeing than people with no such beliefs. Professor Cummins suggests that this could be because they feel stronger disappointment when they lose money.

"There is a widespread understanding that the vast majority of gamblers are destined to lose money through their gambling, but most people take this into account and gamble to enhance the experience of an event, such as a rugby final or a horse race," Professor Cummins says.

"For people with spiritual or religious beliefs, however, a new kind of disappointment presents itself when they gamble because it represents a failure of their spiritual belief to protect them from losing."

Professor Cummins notes, however, that this low wellbeing is only evident in
people with weak spiritual beliefs. Strong beliefs buffer against all kinds of
adversity, including losing money through gambling.

* * *

Wellbeing is measured using the Personal Wellbeing Index. The Personal Wellbeing Index measures people's overall feeling of wellbeing through satisfaction with their health, personal relationships, personal safety, standard of living, what they are achieving in life, community connection, future security and spirituality or religion.

For further information,
Professor Bob Cummins can be contacted on 0402 917 972.

To arrange an interview with Mr Steve Davis, please contact:
Amy McAlister Communications Officer, t 03 8682 6768
amcalister@australianunity.com.au

SOURCE: Australian Unity


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