Sports Betting is the new smashed avo on toast

Categories: Community, Counselling

In 2016 The Australian columnist Bernard Salt satirically blamed the high cost of ‘Smashed Avocado on Toast’ at the local café as the reason Millennials couldn’t afford to buy their own homes. Smashed avo on toast soon came to symbolise the alleged frivolous spending habits of the younger generation, a handy catchphrase that represented Gen Y’s penchant for eating out, buying coffees and takeaway.

However, it appears there is a much more insidious reason young people — and especially young men aged 18 to 35 — can’t afford to enter the property market: gambling.

A recent study, ‘Weighing Up the Odds: Sports Betting and Young Men’ by Rebecca Jenkinson, Cassandra de Lacy-Vawdon and Megan Carroll, highlighted some disturbing statistics.

Their findings suggest that sports betting has become a normalised activity among young men who watch sport (e.g. AFL, cricket, soccer, horse racing) at live events, on TV at home or at a public venue, or streaming online. Their viewing is often interrupted by frequent enticements to bet via widespread advertising, promotional offers and other inducements, 24-hour online access to betting, and informal and formal peer-betting networks.

Those who gambled at least once a week or more were significantly more likely to spend larger amounts of money on bets across different sports, use multiple online betting accounts and be motivated by boredom and chasing losses to maintain their habit – all warning signs of harm.

If a young person were to eat out twice a week and buy four coffees a week, they would spend on average $40–$60 per week (depending on where in Sydney they purchased their smashed avo on toast, with prices ranging from $9–$22).

By comparison a weekly gambler, this study found, dropped $75 per day.

An alarmingly high proportion of the 335 young male bettors who participated in this study were found to be at risk of (55%), or already experiencing (15%), gambling harm. Given that the current rate of the general population said to be experiencing gambling harm is approximately 1%, it is sobering to reflect on just how many young men among us could be classified as problem gamblers.

During Gambling Help Awareness week (16­–22 September), we are all encouraged to examine our own gambling or check in on a mate’s. Some of the questions you can ask are:

  • Have you bet more than you can really afford to lose?
  • Do you go back the next day to try and win back the money you lost?
  • Have you borrowed money or sold anything to get money to gamble?
  • Has gambling caused you any health problems, such as stress or anxiety?
  • Has your gambling caused any financial problems for you or your household?

If you or your friend answered yes to more than one of these questions, there is free, confidential help available from Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury (H2H) at Gordon.

Lifeline’s Gambling Help (funded by the NSW Responsible Gambling Fund) is a comprehensive program that offers a whole suite of support services, including personal counselling, financial counselling, pro-bono legal advice and relationship counselling; all of which are offered to the community at no charge.

Jeanette Svehla, Lifeline H2H’s Gambling Help Manager, encourages all those with concerns about their gambling to make use of this valuable assistance. ‘There’s no reason to face your gambling problems alone when it’s so easy to get the caring, non-judgemental support you need from Lifeline H2H’s professional counselling team.’

All these services are free to both the gambler and their family and friends. To find out more about these and other services available at your local Lifeline centre please call (02) 9498 8805.