A recent survey conducted by the Sheng Kung Hui (SKH) Macao Social Services Centre has shown that a significant number of people affected by gambling harm are too ashamed to seek help.
Between July and October 2021, the SKH Centre conducted a poll among 124 residents who have been affected by their family members’ gambling habits; the poll was conducted via telephone and online.
The aim of the poll was to draw attention to the impact of gambling-related issues on family members or relatives, as well as to offer help to those affected.
According to the survey, over 60% of the respondents admitted to having helped gambling-addicted family members pay off their debts and more than half said they had to bear all household expenses by themselves.
Over 40% of respondents said they felt responsible for paying off their gambling-addicted family members’ debts, while 33% said they should not “interfere with” their family members' gambling behaviour for fear of damaging their relationship.
The SKH suggested it would set up an online counselling team, with the sole purpose of helping the participants cope with their debts.
Additionally, the SKH said it registered over 22,000 requests for assistance in problem gambling issues on its telephone helpline and online platform since its gambling counselling service was launched in 2014; around 30% of the requests were from problem gamblers’ family members and relatives.
The organisation also highlighted the importance of working on strengthening educational campaigns about responsible gambling in the community.