Australians lose more money gambling than any other citizens in the world – about $19 billion each year, with $12 billion poured into almost 200,000 poker machines. The Herald reported this month that 31 per cent of Australians living in regional or rural areas played the pokies in the past year, compared with 22 per cent of capital city dwellers. Betting is ingrained in Australian culture, with the Melbourne Cup one of the most popular spectator events in the country and the tradition of two-up an enduring touchstone of Anzac Day. About 80 per cent of the population gambles in some form during the year and 15 per cent gamble regularly. The federal government said beyond those who bet responsibly and for recreation, up to 500,000 were at risk of becoming or already were problem gamblers. Defined as people whose gambling behaviour disrupts their life, problem gamblers lose around $21,000 each year, around one third of the average salary. It is estimated the actions of one problem gambler negatively affects the lives of between five and 10 other people – meaning there are potentially 5 million people affected by the 500,000 who are at risk of becoming or already are problem gamblers. Problem gamblers, for example, are six times more likely to be divorced than non problem gamblers, and children with parents who are problem gamblers are up to 10 times more likely to become problem gamblers themselves than children with non gambling parents. The government has calculated the social cost of problem gambling to the community to be at least $4.7 billion a year. While gambling does not discriminate between age, gender or profession, several groups identified as being at risk of having or developing gambling problems, including people with drug and alcohol problems, people with depression or anxiety, unmarried males under 30, women in their 40s and 50s living in poorer suburbs – those with the least to lose. Whatever it is that you want to achieve or to change, clinical hypnosis and hypnotherapy can help. If you or a loved one need to speak to someone regarding a gambling problem, please contact: -Gambling Help Line: 1800858858. (24hours) –gamblinghelponline.org.au Rick Collingwood – Australia’s Premiere Clinical Hypnotist and Hypnosis Trainer.