Gambling: a new addition to ADA’s Best Life: Best Work Apprentice Program

September 21, 2023

Matthew Simons - BPsych (Hons)

Hitting up the casino, throwing a pineapple through the pokies, or dropping 100 bucks into the Sportsbet account for the weekend… gambling is an imbedded part of Australian culture, and it’s everywhere.

We carry 24-hour access to this global industry in our pockets, and, often, even a trip to the pub for a counter meal will see you ambushed by the seductive lights and sounds of poker machines.

Because of this, and for the damage gambling does, ADA Australia now includes a module on understanding and managing gambling as a key component of our apprenticeship development program. For young workers, spare cash in the pocket combined with such ease of access, can be all it takes to seed the beginnings of a gambling habit.

In the 2016-2017 financial year, Australians spent $209 billion dollars in all forms of gambling and lost $23.7 billion. This amounts to a loss of $1251 for every man, woman, and child over the age of 18. So, why does a problem gambler continue to gamble despite the losses?

When gambling, the brain ‘lights up’ like a Christmas tree with the same, or similar, chemical changes that are seen when people take drugs, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Gambling triggers the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and adrenalin, and it’s these chemicals that set the waiting trap of addiction for the problem gambler.

Winning, or losing, the chemical reward in the brain drives the compulsion to repeat it. So, the problem gambler continues to gamble. Like any addiction, gambling is a hard one to break. And, also like other addictions, ‘denial’ of the problem – “I can handle it”, “I’m still in control”, “I’m so close…” – can prevent a problem gambler from seeking help.

If your life is gripped by gambling – you skate from pay-cheque to pay-cheque, you wish you didn’t gamble as much, you think about gambling even when doing other things, your credit cards are maxed-out, you’re missing bills and things at home are under pressure – you may be well-advanced on the path to gambling addiction.

An ADA Australia training program for your young apprentices can raise awareness around the trap of gambling. It will also raise awareness around good wellbeing practices, good relationships, looking after mental health and better awareness of personal practices around alcohol and drugs.

If you’d like to learn more about this program, or any of the other training programs we offer, please call ADA Australia on 1300 378 429 or email:

Additionally, If this information raised any concerns for you, please do speak to your GP, they can help you back to good health, or call a helpline: Gambling Helpline 1800 858 858, Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636.

Article by
Matthew Simons - BPsych (Hons)