How to take control of your gambling spend this spring racing season

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Spring racing season is fast approaching. For some people it can lead to stress and financial hardship.

If you don’t want to be tempted to gamble this racing season, you can get help from both your bank and the gambling companies. If you’re worried that someone else may use your funds or credit cards to gamble, then safeguard your money and use the bank gambling block.

Many of the banks’ now have gambling blocks.  Use your bank’s app or online portal and turn it on to block gambling transactions.  Or call up your bank and ask them to turn it on for you.

How do gambling blocks work?

A gambling block as the name suggests blocks transactions which have a merchant code of ‘Betting/Casino Gambling.’ However, each bank has a slightly different setup so make sure you understand what is blocked and what cannot be covered by the block.

If you’re with ANZ, Westpac or NAB, you can activate the block through your banking app, the online portal, or by calling the bank. This typically works for other banks owned by the large banks. Commonwealth Bank customers need to call the bank to turn on the block, but from December the function should be  available in the app and online for you to self-serve and set the block up.

You can usually find more information by googling the name of your bank and the term ‘gambling block.’

Self-exclusion through the gambling companies or venues.

Self-exclusion from a gambling company is the highest level of support. It sends a signal to the company that you have gambling issues. They are then not allowed to send you marketing information. You can usually choose the length of the exclusion, from a period of a few months to indefinite suspension.

Gambling companies must help you self-exclude if you ask. Most will ask you to fill out a form, sign it (and get it witnessed) and send it in. Some allow you to do this online. If you haven’t got anyone to be the witness you can ask a financial counsellor, gambling counsellor or even your local police station witnesses documents. Or ask a bank teller.

In mid-2022 the National Online Gambling Self-Exclusion Register should be up and running and it will be easy for you to self-exclude, but in the meantime you need to use the NT form plus self-exclude from the missing individual companies. Most of the online wagering operators are licensed in the NT, and the NT Racing Commission has an online form that it will distribute to all the NT licensed operators, including new ones that emerge. This is a good way of excluding from the large companies like Ladbrokes, Neds, Bet365, Sportsbet and some others with a single form.

Note that if you just close your account, and don’t formally self-exclude, then your data stays in the account. It is easy for you to re-open the account and continue gambling. So if you are serious about controlling your gambling issues, self-exclusion is a much stronger option.

In some states, there is a process for 3rd party exclusions. This means that a family member or close friend can flag that they are observing serious harm, and a special process kicks in.

Shorter term options

Many gambling companies also have short term ‘take a break’ options on their websites and apps. This can be for a few days to get you through a risky period, and to give yourself a break. Many people feel relief at the decision being taken out of their hands.

When you want to get professional help

There are free support options.

  • Gambling Help Online for gambling-related advice and a map of your local services. Gamblers Help operates 24-7.
  • Contact a financial counsellor (there are specialist gambling financial counsellors) by calling the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or to use the live chat service on this website, which operates 9:30am-4:30pm weekdays.

Financial counsellors can help you with gambling-related debts, navigate putting protections in place, and assist people impacted by a someone else’s gambling. Sometimes the companies have breached their responsibilities under the various responsible gambling codes of conduct, and the financial counsellor may help put in a complaint to the regulators.

If possible, it’s useful to have your bank and gambling statements on hand when you call. But if that’s not possible, don’t worry – it’s better to seek support with whatever information you have rather than leavings things unaddressed.