Ex-footy star in gambling campaign - Friday 14th of October 2005

FORMER AFL player David Schwarz has thrown his support behind a new $3.3 million State Government campaign to tackle problem gambling.

Mr Schwarz, who has previously admitted to a gambling problem, said the campaign was about identifying and helping gamblers who were possibly on the way to having a serious problem and had not realised it.

"I know from first-hand experience that once it has a grip on you, it can be very hard to break free," he said. The campaign, which will begin screening on television tonight, is designed to target gamblers before they reach crisis point, as well as those who already have a problem.

Gaming Minister John Pandazopoulos said: "Research shows that while only 2.1 per cent of the adult population have a gambling problem, about 4 per cent is at risk of developing a gambling problem. This campaign is based on research examining typical behaviours of these individuals."

He said the campaign would demonstrate to current gamblers, family and friends, behaviours that could be identified as warning signs. Behaviours to be highlighted include: thinking about gaming most days, gambling alone, betting more than they can afford to lose, and hiding gambling habits from friends, families and colleagues.

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AdvertisementMr Schwarz, who played 173 games for the Melbourne Demons, said the new campaign "will help people identify the early warning signs, then take action before their gambling becomes a problem".

Mr Pandazopoulos, who will launch the new campaign this morning in Federation Square, said it included television, radio, press and billboard advertisements.

Victorians lost $2.4 billion on gaming machines in 2004-05, with the State Government collecting $842.6 million in taxes from gaming machines and another $112.4 million in gambling taxes from the casino.

Taxes collected from gaming machines are expected to climb to $931 million this financial year.

Mr Pandazopoulos said the Bracks Government was continuing to promote responsible gambling.

"From 2002 to 2005 the Victorian Government committed a total of $56.2 million for problem gambling services, communications and one-off funding of specific initiatives," he said.

The chairman of the Interchurch Gambling Taskforce, John Dalziel, said the taskforce fully supported the new initiative, but added that it was overdue.

"We were calling for them to introduce this type of campaign last year.

"They havent run a gambling media campaign since last Christmas," he said.

He would also like to see the Government spend more money on the new campaign than it had committed, to give the advertisements greater exposure.

"Exposure during the next six weeks is at a medium level and it should be heavy, and the exposure proposed for the next 12 months is at a light level when it should be three times as heavy," he said.

Gaming machine licences in Victoria expire in 2012.

The State Government is expected to begin a review of electronic gaming machine and wagering licences within weeks, and an announcement of the post-2012 structure will be made in 2007, after the next state election.

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