Gambling Harm in Rural Communities

19 Apr 2023

Gaming venues in rural and regional areas can be a go-to location to socialise and provide a sense of comfortability and entertainment.

They can also provide opportunities for employment and togetherness in smaller towns that have limited local activities on offer.

Along with the local community, fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers are often drawn to gaming venues when they’re working in rural mining towns.

This can be one of the only opportunities for individuals to access entertainment and spend their free time, which can leave them vulnerable to gambling harm if safe gambling practices aren’t in place.

Gambling harm in rural communities is an important issue, as accessibility to community, healthcare services, and social activities is very limited.

We explore the challenges rural and mining communities are facing with gambling, the popularity of gambling among FIFO workers, and how to access help.


What is gambling harm?

When gambling starts to take a toll, it can be harmful to the person gambling and the people around them. Gambling harm can negatively impact relationships, work life, finances, and physical and mental wellbeing.

Gambling harm can look like:

  • Gambling to wind down or escape stress
  • Losing focus on work or study to gambling
  • Only wanting to socialise with gambling related activities
  • Getting angry when people close to you bring up gambling
  • Spending more time and money on gambling than you would like to.


The impacts of gambling can be short-term, such as not having money for bills or other essentials. It can also have long-term effects, such as relationship breakdowns, legal issues, and even losing homes.

It’s important to know the signs of gambling harm early before it becomes harder to manage.


How does gambling harm impact rural communities?

As gambling has become more readily accessible in Australia through venues, sports betting, and online gambling, this has created an opportunity for almost all adults anywhere to have access to some form of gambling at any time.

People who live in rural or regional areas in Queensland can have extra pressures such as lack of employment, limited community activities, and social isolation. This can lead these locals to turn to gambling as a way to deal with their stress and avoid boredom, among other reasons.

The challenge that comes with gambling harm and the extra pressures in regional and rural communities is the limitation of access to support.

“Smaller towns have limited access to a wide range of service providers. It’s important these individuals know we provide support to their area. We’re a comfortable place to call up wherever you are in Queensland,” says Meredith, Gambling Help Community Educator and Counsellor in regional Queensland.

Gambling harm impacts not just the individual but also family, friends, and workplaces.

Reducing gambling requires a community focus on the issue, broadening our perspectives from the individual to leaning towards early detection.


FIFO Work and Gambling

Many workers in the mining industry are based onsite in and around rural and regional Queensland. This finds many individuals working on a FIFO roster.

A typical roster for a FIFO worker will see miners working seven days on with accommodation close to the area, and seven days off to spend back at home. This may be shorter or longer depending on the requirements of the job.

Although FIFO work provides many benefits, adjusting to two different living environments, social isolation, and disconnection from friends and family can be difficult to navigate in smaller and remote communities. Venues with access to gambling can provide entertainment and social connection.

“Working in remote areas, it’s easy for people to go under the radar for gambling harm. Workers at the venues can miss the signs of gambling harm in patrons, as they may not see patrons regularly. They may gamble regularly, but in different locations due to their job,” says Maureen, Gambling Help Community Educator.

Higher income and the difficulties of adjusting to different environments can create vulnerabilities for those working in the industry. In fact, research shows remote workers are three-times more vulnerable to psychological distress than the general population.


Where to Get Help

If you feel you or someone you know is impacted by gambling harm, it’s important to know help is readily available all throughout Queensland.

The Gambling Help Service caters to all kind of backgrounds, ages, and cultures, removing all barriers to accessing help including rural and remote areas.

We offer support to people who gamble, their friends and families, staff working in the gaming industry, and anyone else impacted by gambling.

If you or a friend are looking for support in your area or want to ask a question, free, confidential, and culturally appropriate help is available. We’re here for you and will work with you at your own pace.

You can talk to a counsellor by calling the 24/7 helpline on 1800 858 858.


Help for yourself

  • Reach out to The Gambling Help Service for support either online or over the phone.
  • Connect with people you trust and work on a strategy to keep you accountable.
  • Explore with friends, family, or workmates other options of entertainment outside of gambling.
  • Learn a new skill or hobby, or implement a healthy habit to keep you busy after work.
  • Explore self-help strategies for managing stress, physical and mental health, and money.


Help if you’re impacted by someone else’s gambling

  • Reach out to the Gambling Help Service for support and advice either online or over the phone.
  • Get comfortable checking in with your mates. If you’re not sure how, Gambling Help Services can advise on ways to start a conversation.
  • Look after yourself and your wellbeing.
  • Get professional advice on finances.


Help for industry

Community Educators with the Gambling Help Service provide support to gaming venues and their staff all over Queensland either in person, over the phone, or over Zoom videocall.

Wherever you are in Queensland, there are many ways for continued support and education around safe gambling in your venue.

Our Community Educators can:

  • Raise awareness around the risks associated with gambling
  • Help promote the access to gambling support
  • Assist with self-exclusion or self-ban
  • Provide education and support around safer gambling
  • Provide self-care and wellbeing training support.

Learn more about creating links with the Gambling Help Service here.

Contact us

If gambling is impacting your life or a loved one's life, it's okay to reach out for help. It’s free and confidential.

Call the 24/7 Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858

Face-to-face counselling locations