Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Problem gamblers need more support

More than a third of problem gamblers have a mental illness, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin said during Mental Health Week.

This week is Mental Health Week, a time to raise awareness of mental illness in our local communities and the impact it has on local families.

“Many people would be surprised to learn that about 35 per cent of problem gamblers have a severe mental disorder,” Ms Macklin said.

A 2008 BeyondBlue research project found that 35 per cent of problem gamblers have a severe mental disorder, 50 per cent have an alcohol problem and 72 per cent can be at risk of depression.

A recent study commissioned by Gambling Research Australia has also shown that the children of problem gamblers are up to 10 times more likely to become problem gamblers themselves.

Ms Macklin said the Australian Government was taking action to help problem gamblers and their families by adding pre-commitment technology to poker machines.

“Too many lives are being ruined by problem gambling. Problem gamblers experience higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts as a result of their gambling,” Ms Macklin said.

“Every day, I receive letters, emails and phone calls from ordinary Australians who are affected by problem gambling and want the Government to introduce pre-commitment technology to help pokie addicts take control of their gambling.”

Ms Macklin said there was a silent majority in our communities whose families are being destroyed by pokie addiction, like the mother whose daughter asked her, “Can’t Daddy buy you a poker machine so you and the money can just stay at home?”.

To hear more of this woman’s story visit

The Government’s changes to poker machines are a recommendation of the Productivity Commission – Australia’s leading economic research body – based on the best evidence from academics and the community sector.

We are also providing extra support for mental health services across Australia, committing $2.2 billion over five years for more intensive support services, especially for young people and targeted support in remote areas and communities that need it most.