Gambling in Australia is more readily available than anywhere else in the world and this can cause problems for people coming from countries where it is more restricted.
For example, recently arrived migrants to Australia can find the freedom of the Australian culture and the constant availability of gambling activities a risk factor for problematic gambling. This is especially dangerous when new migrants are trying to find their feet and be accepted into this new Australia culture.
As it is for many people, gambling can be mistakenly seen as a way make money especially when their incomes are poor and the allure and glamour of the Casino is difficult to resist (Feldman, S. et al 2014).
Jessica comes from a Chinese background. Her family has been affected by her father’s gambling. Here is the beginning of her gambling story which we will follow over a series of 4 blog posts.
I’m twenty years old. I live in Campsie. I was born here in Australia but my parents are from China. I speak fluent Chinese and pretty well all of my friends are Chinese. I’m an only child. We don’t really have much extended family living close to us.
In China, gambling is banned. So when my father came here to Australia, he had a lack of education about it. And it’s very addictive. My Dad developed a problem. And it wasn’t just him, a lot of our family friends developed problems as well. This happened when I was about fourteen or fifteen.
Jessica’s dad is not a new migrant. He has been here at least 15 years. We know from recent research however, that when someone does not identify with the Australian culture, casinos can be attractive for migrants (Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority, 2000).
Casinos work hard at being an attractive environment, and for those with little knowledge of English, they provide a relatively safe environment with the added incentive of staff who speak the language and games that are familiar. Within Chinese cultural settings, gambling may be seen as a method by which individuals are able to improve their status and social standing so that can be another attraction (Oei & Raylu, 2010).
Jessica does not give any information about what sort of gambling problem her father developed. In many ways it is not relevant to the story as the effects will be the same. She talks about how her dad’s gambling changed the father she knew and how it affected her family.
The first thing that I noticed was that my Dad’s behaviour changed. He used to be very happy and outgoing but then he started disappearing at night for no reason. He’d be out until 3am and be really shifty about it. Then he’d be really tired and cranky. He just wasn’t the same person.
The emotional and financial impacts of the problem gambling behaviours were significant for both Jessica and her family:
I felt like I had lost my father because he had changed so much. He also stopped supporting me- he stopped coming to my parent-teacher interviews, he never remembered my birthday- all he wanted to do was gamble. Then my mother started to develop depression. It was hard. Both my parents were emotionally damaged. And financially, there were some things that we just didn’t buy anymore. Some activities that I loved to do, I just couldn’t do them anymore.
Jessica talks about some of the really common signs that someone is developing a gambling problem. If you notice some of these signs in a member of your family (behaviour changing, they are staying out late without reason or if there is a shortage of money) seek some assistance. A good place to start is at https://gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au/need-help/other-languages/ where there is information in the major languages in the community. There are also videos in community languages https://www.youtube.com/user/GamblingHangover
For gambling help please contact:
Multicultural Problem Gambling Program for Chinese Communities
1800 856 800 or 9912 3851, Monday to Friday, 8.30am-5pm
Northern Sydney Local Health District Multicultural Gambling Service – Chinese
02 9477 9567, 8.30am – 5pm
1800 858 858, 24 hours, 7 days a week
Feldman, S., Radermacher, R., Anderson, C. & Dickins, M. (2014). A qualitative investigation of the experiences, attitudes and beliefs about gambling in the Chinese and Tamil communities in Victoria, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. February 2014.
Oei, T. P. S., & Raylu, N. (2010). Gambling behaviors and motivations: A cross-cultural study of Chinese and Caucasians in Australia. The International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 56(1), 23-34.