An Indigenous male health conference in Brisbane has discussed the destruction caused by gambling on families and communities.
23 Oct 2013 - 8:52 PM  UPDATED 23 Oct 2013 - 8:53 PM

Health workers believe that placing a bet is causing just as much harm as alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

The seventh Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Conference finished today after discussing men's health and wellbeing and the things that can harm health and wellbeing.

Attending the conference was Darryl Lingwoodock, who was a Project Officer with an Indigenous Paliative Care program, called Pepa.

Darryl, a Cubbi Cubbi man originally from the Sunshine Coast he also had serious love of pokie machines earlier in life before, fortunately, a friend talked him out of it.  

"I won about $4,500 one night on a couple of pokie machines you know," says Darryl Lingwoodock.

"And by the time we walked out of the same building, I'm looking for money to buy a pack of smokes."

Darryl, a church-going man also works as a Chaplain, with the homeless in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, many ending up on the streets because of alcohol, drugs and gambling.

"All their money goes on - whatever money they can get whether it be by asking people on the streets."

Darryl says gambling can be as addictive as alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

The stress over losing money and hoping to win it back is also damaging to a person's health.

"Once it starts affecting you and your health starts deteriorating, you're not in a good place.

"You know a lot of mental health issues can come out of that. You know because you're so worried about where the dollar is going to come from."

The betting used to take the form of a bet at the horse races, but in the last few years online betting and sports betting, particularly on the NRL and AFL have taken off.

Darryl says the only winners from this form of gambling is the businesses offering the odds.

"The misery that it helps generate...Mr Waterhouse is in it to make a buck."

The National Mens Health Gathering will continue in Brisbane until Friday.