Things have been tough for you, your staff and your patrons. As we prepare for gaming rooms to re-open on Monday 29 June, here are some ideas on how you can support your customers as they return to your venue:
- Keep a close eye out for people showing signs of problematic gambling behaviour. Some of your patrons may believe that as they have not gambled for a period of time they are in control. You can find a list of possible problem gambling indicators in your Responsible Gambling Document
- Continue to closely monitor patrons for changes in their gambling behaviour and ensure to document these on a Gaming Patron Internal Reporting Form and communicate with all gaming staff
- Ask your staff to continue to check in regularly with gaming room patrons, and to encourage them to take breaks if they remain playing for extended periods of time
- For patrons who are struggling to stick to limits, consider offering a pre-commitment option or ask your Gaming Care Officer about how a Memorandum of Agreement may assist
- Ensure your staff are able to access details of barred patrons via BOEN or an up to date consolidated barring list. Some patrons may believe that their barring is no longer in place and it is important to recognise if these patrons try to enter the gaming room
- Some patrons may come to your gaming room wearing a face mask due to concerns around COVID-19. It is important that you are able to ascertain whether the patron is barred, which you may do by politely asking the patron to lift their mask briefly so they can be identified by staff
- Check that your barring packs are up-to-date and that your staff understand the barring process. Some of your patrons will be trying not to return to gambling and a barring may assist them
- If a patron is showing signs of distress from their gambling, remind them that gaming machines are only a game, designed for fun and entertainment. If they are not having fun, suggest that they take a break
- Reach out to your local Gambling Help Services to make sure you are confident in referring people. They might have additional advice or be able to support you to keep your patrons safe. Let your patrons know where help is available and what they can offer
Why is this important?
We know that you have your community’s best interests at heart, and it’s never been more important to look out for one another. Many of your patrons have been experiencing the same stresses that you have, and some will be more vulnerable to gambling harm than ever before.
Research and modelling being undertaken by various institutions during the pandemic has raised concerns regarding:
- Mental health – with evidence of increased rates of anxiety and depression
- Financial hardship – including reduced income and being unable to pay household bills
- Alcohol consumption – drinking more and drinking to cope with anxiety and stress
- Unemployment – in addition to existing job losses, expectations of job losses are high
- Suicide – modelling suggests an increase in suicide and in youth suicide
We know that unemployment, having a low income, experiencing mental illness, alcohol and other drug issues are all risk factors for problem gambling. We also know that gambling can worsen the effect of these and other impacts of this pandemic, and that many problem gamblers gamble most intensely in times of stress.
These are just some of the reasons why, now more than ever, we need to support our communities and patrons and help them to avoid experiencing harm as a result of gambling.
If you or your staff need any support, or have any questions about how to best assist your patrons, please contact your designated Gaming Care Officer directly or call our office on 8100 2499.v