Cliff Banks, The Buttery’s counsellor for problem gamblers has more than ten years’ experience in his profession.


For every problem gambler, an estimated ten other people are directly affected. The estimated social cost is up to $4 billion per year. Problem gambling is gambling behaviour which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational.

However help is at hand and the likelihood of recovery from this all too frequent addiction is strong given appropriate treatment.

Cliff, a qualified counsellor with more than ten years’ experience said there is a plethora of therapies available for problem gamblers. He favours using Acceptance Commitment Therapy. This involves problem gamblers accepting their thoughts and feelings, connecting with their values and then taking effective action to address the problem. This can include self-exclusion from gambling venues and adhering to a strict expenditure budget.

“Australia is a nation of gamblers. Opportunities to gamble are always available and very pervasive. This makes it almost impossible for those who are addicted to abstain. Apart from the fact that there is one poker machine for every 108 Australians, opportunities to gamble on-line or via television sports programs are ever-present. Of the 600,000 Australians who play pokies at least weekly an estimated 95,000 are problem gamblers who lose an average of $21,000 per year,” Cliff said.