What does ‘safer gambling’ look like? 10 steps to reduce risk

4 Nov 2022

You may see resources and ads encouraging the practice of safer gambling – but what exactly does that look like?

Safer gambling means you’re applying low-risk strategies to your gambling to reduce the risk of gambling harm. These strategies might include leaving non-essential money and bank cards at home to prevent spending more than you can afford to lose on gambling.

Following our 10 steps for safer gambling is a great start for some people, but it’s important to consider your unique situation and what works for you.

Following these steps alone may not be effective if you:

  • Have issues with alcohol or other drugs
  • Have mental health issues such as anxiety and depression
  • Have a personal or family history of experiencing gambling harm.


1.      Understand the game

When you know the game and you’re honest with yourself about the risks of gambling, you’re less likely to think a win is just around the corner.

Remember the gambling industry exists to make a profit, there is a high probability you will lose, and odds will always be in the house’s favour.


2.      Track your time

It’s easy to lose your sense of time and gamble for longer than you’d planned to.

Set a time limit in advance and make sure you have access to the time on your phone or watch. Better yet, set an alarm.


3.      Spend within your means

Only gamble with the amount of money you can afford to lose. The amount you can safely spend on gambling comes down to your own financial situation and what you can afford to lose without it impacting your ability to pay for essentials.

Set a spending limit in advance so you know when to walk away, and only take this amount with you so you can’t overspend.


4.      Get balance in your life

Balance is important in all aspects of life. Make sure gambling isn’t your only pastime by balancing it with other recreational activities.

Consider activities that release dopamine, like catching up with friends, team sports, going to the gym, or creative projects. It’s important to find healthy ways to spend your time outside of gambling.


5.      Explore your reasons for gambling

Everyone’s gambling habits are different. Some people place a bet on the Melbourne Cup once a year. Others bet a few times a week. For some people, gambling is a fun and harmless pastime, but for others, it can cause serious problems.

So, what’s your style? Understanding your own gambling and what motivates you can help you stay in control.


6.      Only gamble with a clear mind

Drinking or consuming drugs while gambling affects your ability to make decisions.

Your mood can greatly impact how safely you gamble. Gambling when you’re happy and clear-headed means your decision-making will be clearer.

Try to limit your consumption of alcohol and other drugs when you gamble.


7.      Stick with the right support

When gambling, surround yourself with people who are supportive of your limits. Telling a friend or family member you trust can help you gamble within your means.

It’s not always easy, but leaning on your support network can make a world of difference when you’re struggling with gambling harm.


8.      Know that chasing losses never works out

Chasing losses leads to bigger losses that can create more harm.

Trying to win back the money that you have spent before you leave is not actually setting a limit. Safer gambling means walking away when you have spent your limit.


9.      Remind yourself that gambling is not a way to make money

Gambling is a form of entertainment, not a means to earn an income.

When gambling, remind yourself that gambling is only used for entertainment – like going to buy a ticket for a show, movie, or concert.


10. Take regular breaks

Like any other activity, taking a break from gambling can clear your head. It’s easy to get carried away and lose track of time.

Taking regular breaks to have a bite to eat, get some fresh air, or call a friend will help you get perspective.


Seek help when you need it

If you need some extra support to help you set up a plan for safer gambling, our experienced counsellors can provide advice. We’re here to help anyone impacted by gambling harm.

You can call the 24/7 gambling helpline on 1800 858 858 to chat or make a face-to-face appointment. Or you can learn more about our gambling support services 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