Identifying a problem gambler

Information for Gambling Providers ONLY.

Problem gambling occurs when people have difficulty limiting the amount of money and time they spend gambling. This can harm the individual, their family and friends, and the wider community.

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

The list below shows possible gambling risk indicators. You may encounter customers displaying one or several of these indicators. Displaying one risk indicator may not mean the customer is a problem gambler (unless they display that particular risk indicator to an unreasonable degree). Some of the indicators can be quite subtle whilst 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.


  1. Gambles every day of the week

  2. Gambles for three hours or more without a break of 15 minutes or longer

  3. Gambles for 5 or more hours without a break of 15 minutes or longer

  4. Gambles so intensely that the person barely reacts to what was going on around him or her

  5. Plays very fast (e.g., inserts large numbers of coins into the machine very rapidly, presses the buttons very rapidly so that the spin rate is very fast)

  6. Bets $2.50 or more per spin most of the time

  7. After winning on poker machines, plays on quickly without even stopping to listen to the music or jingle

  8. Rushes from one machine or gaming table to another

  9. Gambles on 2 or more machines at once (where this is allowed)

  10. Gambles continuously

  11. Spends more than $300 in one session of gambling

  12. Significant changes in expenditure pattern, e.g., sudden increases in spending


  1. Stops gambling only when the venue is closing

  2. Gambles right through usual lunch break or dinner time

  3. Finds it difficult to stop gambling at closing time

  4. Tries obsessively to win on a particular machine

  5. Starts gambling when the venue is opening


  1. Asked venue staff to not let other people know that they are there

  2. Has friends or relatives call or arrive at the venue asking if the person is still there

  3. Is rude or impolite to venue staff

  4. Avoids contact, communicates very little with anyone else

  5. Stays on to gamble while friends leave the venue

  6. Become very angry if someone takes the person’s favourite machine or spot in the venue

  7. Brags about winning or makes a big show relating to how skilful he or she is as a gambler

  8. Stands over other players while waiting for his or her favourite machine

Raising Funds/Chasing Behaviour

  1. Gets cash out on 2 or more occasions to gamble using an ATM or EFTPOS at venues

  2. Asks to change large notes at venues before gambling

  3. Borrows money from other people at venues

  4. Asks for a loan or credit from venues

  5. Puts large win amounts back into the machine and kept playing

  6. Leaves the venue to find money to continue gambling

  7. Observed rummaging around in purse or wallet for additional money

  8. Appears to have run out of all money including all money in purse or wallet when they leave venue

  9. Uses coin machine at least 4 times


  1. Seen to be shaking (while gambling)

  2. Sweats a lot (while gambling)

  3. Looks nervous/edgy (e.g., leg switching, bites lip continuously)

  4. Vocally displays anger (e.g., swears to themselves, grunts)

  5. Kicks or violently strikes machines with fists

  6. Looks very sad or depressed (after gambling)

  7. Cries after losing a lot of money

  8. Sits with head in hand after losing

  9. Plays machine very roughly and aggressively (e.g., with fists or slaps)

  10. Groans repeatedly while gambling

  11. Shows significant changes in mood during sessions


  1. Gambles after having drunk a lot of alcohol

  2. Appears to avoid cashier - appears evasive - only uses cash facilities

  3. Significant decline in personal grooming and/or appearance over several days

Irrational Attributions/Behaviours

  1. Blames venues or machines for losing

  2. Complains to staff about losing

  3. Swears at machines or venue staff because they are losing

  4. Compulsively rubs belly of machine or screen while playing1

1 Delfabbro, P.H., Osborn, A., Nevile, M., Skelt, L. & McMillen, J. (2007). Identifying Problem Gamblers in Gambling Venues, Gambling Research Australia, Melbourne and Responsible Gambling Advisory Committee Exclusions Focus Group (2002) Pathways and Protocols for Exclusion–An Intervention/Rehabilitation Strategy (p 285).

Contact us

If gambling has become a problem for you, or someone you care about, get some help. It’s free and confidential.

Call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Click for face-to-face counselling locations

Click for online counselling and real time chat