Identifying gambling harm

Information for Gambling Providers ONLY.

Gambling harm occurs when people have difficulty limiting the amount of money and time they spend gambling. Gambling harm can impact other areas of a person's life, including their finances, job/studies, relationships, mental health, and physical health. Gambling harm impacts the individual, their family and friends, and the wider community.

As an employee of a gaming venue, you play an important role in observing, monitoring and communicating with your patrons and management to minimise the potential for harm in gambling activities.

When working in a venue, you get to know your venue, the popular machines, regular patrons, and their behaviour.

The list below shows possible gambling harm indicators. You may encounter customers displaying one or several of these indicators. Displaying one risk indicator may not mean the customer is experiencing gambling harm (unless they display that particular risk indicator to an unreasonable degree). Some of the indicators can be subtle, while others may be more obvious. We are looking for clusters of three or more indicators. And remember, you are not a trained counsellor; your job is to respond with respect and refer accordingly.

For advice or assistance, speak to your venue’s manager/customer liaison officer or contact the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858.


  • Tries obsessively to win on one machine
  • Gambles right through normal meal times
  • Finds it difficult to stop gambling at closing time
  • Starts gambling when the venue is opening or only stops when venue is closing


  • Gets cash out on 2 or more occasions through EFTPOS
  • Puts large wins back into the machine and keeps playing
  • Has run out of all money when he/she leaves venue
  • Leaves venue to find money to continue gambling
  • Asks to change large notes at venue before gambling
  • Rummages around in purse or wallet for additional money
  • Witnessed or heard that a customer was trying to borrow money from other people at venue or asking for credit from venue


  • Spends $300 or more in a session
  • Often gambles for long periods (3+ hours) without a proper break
  • Bets $3 or more per spin most of the time
  • Plays very fast
  • Gambles on 2 or more machines at once
  • Gambles intensely without reacting to what’s going on around him/her
  • Gambles most days
  • Rushes from 1 machine to another
  • Significant increase in spending pattern


  • Complains to staff about losing, or blames venue or machines for losing
  • Rituals or superstitious behaviours such as rubbing belly of machine or screen, talking to machine, spitting on machine, use of luck charms


  • Shows signs of distress after gambling (looks sad/depressed, crying, holding head in hands, nervous/edgy, shaking, sweating)
  • Gets angry while gambling (kicking, hitting machines, swearing, grunting or groaning, playing roughly/aggressively)


  • Stays on to gamble when friends leave venue
  • Is rude or impolite to venue staff
  • Becomes angry or stands over others if someone takes their favourite machine/spot
  • Avoids contact or conversation with others
  • Generally poor hygiene, or, significant decline in personal grooming or appearance over several days (body odours, dirty or unchanged clothes, messy greasy hair)
  • Conceals presence at venue (doesn’t answer mobile phone, takes or makes calls outside venue, asks staff not to let others know they are there, people contact or visit venue looking for person)


Thomas, A., Delfabbro, P., Armstrong, A.R., (2014) Validation study of in-venue problem gambler indicators, Gambling Research Australia, (p 203).

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