The rise in online betting over the last few years is raising questions around the accessibility of gambling outside the confines of regulation, with mobile phone users now able to bet on mobile phones.
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While gambling rates across NSW have declined in the past decade, a 2019 report conducted by the NSW Responsible Gaming Fund found a sharp rise in people placing bets online.
The report found just under one in 10 adults across the state were betting online, with race and sports betting now more popular among gamblers than gaming machines.
A more recent study by the Australian Communications and Media Authority found more than one in 10 Australians reported participating in online gambling throughout the first half of 2021.
Lifeline Central West GambleAware counsellor Barbara Bard, who works with clients right across Western NSW, said it's difficult to predict the nature of problem gamblers across the region, as they often find it difficult to admit they have a problem.
"At any one time, I'm working with around 10 people across the region who have started the process to combat gambling addiction," Ms Bard said.
"There's certainly a big stigma around gambling addiction, and sometimes it takes a family crisis, such as a break-up of parents or severe financial strain before an addict realises they need to do something about it."
Ms Bard said the rise in online gambling, which has been buoyed by the increase in advertising during sporting events and on social media, has added further difficulties to the self-exclusion process.
"Whenever you see a sporting event on television, there's so much advertising for betting agencies that people can freely access on their phones," she said.
"It makes gambling addiction even harder to manage, as mobile phones have allowed problem gamblers to be more discreet about it."
Ms Bard said the rise of mobile applications with 'pay-to-play' incentives is also a scary prospect, with many applications marketed towards children.
"It's encouraging betting from a young age, which is really hard to monitor," Ms Bard said.
"Take a game such as Candy Crush Saga. It starts off as a free game, but you delve deeper and deeper into it, in-app purchases start to take over...it's like a gateway drug to online gambling."
Bathurst RSL Club chief executive officer Peter Sargent also sees concern around the rise in online gambling.
He said the greater numbers of younger males in particular turning towards mobile betting apps is turning them away from gambling in a regulated environment with harm minimisation measures in place.
"If you want to access a gaming machine, you have to leave your house and enter a licenced venue with responsible gambling regulations in place," Mr Sargent said.
"But with technology constantly in the palm of your hand, it takes away opportunities for harm minimisation and self-exclusion."
Mr Sargent said licenced venues aren't allowed to advertise gaming machines, which creates an uneven playing field against the constant advertising found for online betting services.
"Clubs and pubs are often singled out when it comes to gaming activities and gambling addictions, but no one is talking about the prevalence of online betting activities and the targeted nature of advertising," he said.
"In our view, it's far more safer to gamble in venues where regulations are in place to protect people from taking it too far."
Much of the revenue made on gaming machines at the Bathurst RSL Club and Panthers Bathurst, who have most of the region's machines, go into ClubGRANTS, an annual ClubsNSW initiative that sees funding diverted to community organisations.
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