Code of Ethics for Problem Gambling Treatment & Support Services


As a privately run service, BetSafe has voluntarily adopted the Code of Ethics for Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Services, developed by the Responsible Gambling Fund.

Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Services embody the following values:


For the purposes of this code:

The term 'practitioner' is used to refer to anyone working within problem gambling treatment and support services. This includes anyone undertaking the role(s) of a counsellor, psychiatrist, social worker, therapist, psychologist, financial counsellor, psychotherapist, educator, supervisor, researcher, legal professional, placement student, volunteer, administrative and clerical staff, or manager of any problem gambling treatment service.

The term 'client' refers to the recipient of problem gambling treatment and support services. The client may be an individual, couple, family, carer, group, organisation or other specifiable social unit.

The term 'colleague' refers to any worker within or outside of the problem gambling treatment sector with whom the practitioner has a professional working relationship.

The term 'stakeholder' refers to those individuals, organisations, communities, government departments, funding bodies, industry and association bodies, which have or could have an interest in, or a relationship with problem gambling treatment and support services.

The term 'problem gambling' refers to the situation when a person's gambling activity may give rise to harm to the individual player, and/or to his or her family, and may extend into the community. (Victorian Casino Gaming Authority 1997)

The term 'counselling' refers to treatment, therapy, preventative measures, and other interventions used by practitioners.


Problem gambling treatment and service services consist of a range of workers, such as:

  • Administrative and clerical staff
  • Counsellors
  • Educators
  • Financial Counsellors
  • Legal professionals
  • Managers
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Psychotherapists
  • Researchers
  • Social workers
  • Supervisors
  • Therapists

and others who work with clients who are affected by problem gambling. These workers are committed to providing the highest quality care for people affected by problem gambling, by reducing the harms caused by problem gambling and working with their clients to address any of the underlying issues.

This Code of Ethics has been developed by the Ethics Working Group through consultation with practitioners from problem gambling treatment and support services and assistance from St James Ethics Centre. The Code of Ethics is a living document. Once in place, it will be reviewed periodically and revised to take into account the emergence of other issues.

The Purpose of the Code of Ethics

There is a diversity of philosophies, treatment approaches, professions and roles within the problem gambling treatment sector. However, there is a common aim, an agreed set of ethical values, principles and behaviours, which unify the problem gambling treatment sector. This Code of Ethics outlines these unifying factors.

This Code of Ethics has been developed to cover all workers in problem gambling treatment and support services. Workers may belong to various professional associations or registration boards with their own codes, as well being obliged to follow their employer's code of ethics.

This Code of Ethics is a holistic document. No clause or section should be read in isolation from the rest of the Code.

This Code will also:

  • Provide uniformity and unity within problem gambling treatment and support services
  • Provide a system for accountable practice
  • Protect and outline the rights and responsibilities of clients, practitioners colleagues and others

Working Ethically

Although a code of ethics is essential to the maintenance of ethical integrity andaccountability, it cannot be a substitute for the active process of ethical decision-making.There are often complex ethical dilemmas and competing demands beyond the scope of this code.

A. Respect

A1. Respect the Dignity of all People

Practitioners respect the dignity of all people - clients and their families, colleagues, wider society and other stakeholders. Practitioners will undertake to participate in only those practices that are respectful of the legal, civic and moral rights of others, and to act in safeguarding the dignity and rights of clients, colleagues, the community and other stakeholders.

A2. Respect Cultural and Social Diversity

Practitioners actively work to understand the diverse cultural and social background of others. Practitioners do not condone or engage in discrimination based on age, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, language, health, relational or socioeconomic status or ability.

A3. Respect for other Differences

Practitioners will strive to recognise and respect that individuals possess values, morals, attitudes and opinions that may differ from their own. Practitioners will attempt to remain sensitive, and seek to understand particular perspectives and responses. Practitioners will remain open and non-judgemental and ensure that their own belief system, and those of their organisation, do not interfere with clients being accepted and treated in a manner which respects the clients orientation and beliefs.

A4. Right of Self-Determination

Practitioners will explore options to allow clients to make informed choices. Practitioners seek to honour these choices within the context of legal, ethical and moral boundaries.

A5. Rights and Responsibilities

Practitioners will undertake to clarify and make explicit their role and responsibilities with a client throughout the treatment process. Clients have the right to participate in the development of treatment plans, to refuse any recommended services/advice and tobe advised of the consequences of such a refusal.

A6. Harassment and Bullying

Practitioners will not condone, nor engage in bullying, or harassment of any kindincluding sexual harassment.

B. Responsible Caring

B1. Active Concern for Others' Welfare

Practitioners will demonstrate an active concern for the welfare of clients and others, being mindful of the possible harmful effects of problem gambling.

B2. Providing for Self-Determination

Practitioners seek to assist clients to recognise and develop their own strengths, abilities and virtues by removing barriers, providing skills and resources for self-determination.

B3. Acting in the Best Interests of the Client

Practitioners will act in the best interest of clients. Practitioners will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the clients do not suffer undue physical, emotional or psychological harm whilst in counselling. Practitioners will seek to work collaboratively with clients to devise integrated, individual plans that offer reasonable likelihood of success and are based on the clients' needs.

B4. Creating a Safe Space

Practitioners will strive to create a safe, quiet and private environment for clients.

B5. Commitment to Harm Reduction

Practitioners are committed to using strategies and treatment modes that aim to reduce the harm caused to clients, families and the community by problem gambling.

B6. Termination of Counselling

Practitioners will endeavour to terminate counselling, with client agreement whenever possible, when:

  • It is reasonably clear that the goals have been reached
  • The client is no longer benefiting from the practitioner's service
  • The client chooses to terminate counselling
  • Or a client fails to attend.

B7. Continuation of Care

Practitioners will strive to make all reasonable efforts to facilitate the continuation of counselling when services are interrupted due to illness, relocation or other reasons.

B8. Responsibility to the Profession

Practitioners understand that ethical behaviour among themselves and with other practitioners is expected at all times. When practitioners have serious doubts about the ethical behaviour of another practitioner they have an obligation to seek a resolution. When a resolution is not appropriate, feasible, or successful, practitioners should consult the complaints process.

C. Integrity in Relationships

C1. Expectation in Relationships

Practitioners will aim to demonstrate honesty, authenticity, propriety and transparency in all professional relationships.

C2. Client Consent

In order for clients to be fully aware and provide informed consent, at the beginning and throughout the counselling relationship, practitioners will inform clients of the purposes, procedures, limitations and potential risks of counselling.

C3. Conflicts of Interest

Practitioners will endeavour to place the welfare of clients, the public and the reputation of the sector above their own interests and those of the employer or colleagues. Practitioners need to be aware of any potential conflicts of interest arising from relationships with the gambling industry.

C4. Consistency of Treatment

At all times practitioners will strive to treat all clients consistently providing adequate information, time and support.

C5. Boundaries

Practitioners will be responsible for maintaining professional boundaries at all times. Practitioners are accountable for any relationship established with current or former clients, but are not limited to, those of sexual intimacy, friendships, social, financial or business. Sexual relationships with clients in a therapeutic or helping practice are always unethical.

C6. Dynamics of Practitioner/Client Relationship

Practitioners will seek to not misuse the power dynamic that exists between practitioner and client.

C7. Gifts and Benefits

Practitioners will endeavour to place the interests of their clients, colleagues and other stakeholders before their own. Practitioners also respect cultures where gift giving is customary. In respect of this, practitioners undertake not to allow their professional duties to be influenced, or be perceived to be influenced by any consideration, gift or advantage offered.

D. Competence in Practice

D1. Best Practice

Practitioners will aspire to work to the highest standard of practice within their field. Practitioners will seek to work in accordance with sound theoretical underpinnings and evidence based practices.

D2. Professional Development and Training

Practitioners will actively seek to improve their knowledge and skills by undertaking continuous professional development in their area of work. Practitioners will take reasonable steps to obtain on-going training. Practitioners will aim to enhance their colleagues' professional development by sharing knowledge and experience, within the limits of confidentiality and privacy.

D3. Clinical or Professional Supervision

Practitioners will seek supervision with respect to their professional practice especially in relation to doubts or uncertainties which arise during their professional work.

D4. Initiate Referrals

Practitioners should only undertake work within their professional competence and be aware of their limitations. Practitioners will strive to be open about their limitations and make appropriate referrals to other professionals or services as required.

D5. Self-Reflection and Responsible Practice

Practitioners are responsible for ensuring that their professional relationships with clients are not unduly influenced by their own emotional needs and experiences. Practitioners will seek to take responsibility for their work with all people, reflect on and evaluate their own processes and practices.

D6. Legal Obligations

Practitioners will endeavour to take all reasonable steps to be aware of, and comply with, current legal requirements which impact upon their work role and relationships with clients.

D7. Practitioner Qualifications

Practitioners will claim or imply only those professional qualifications which they possess and correct any known misrepresentation of their qualification by others.

D8. Accountability

Practitioners will be accountable for their services to clients, colleagues, employers and other stakeholders as appropriate.

E. Maintaining Privacy and Confidentiality

E1. Clients and Confidentiality

Practitioners are bound by issues of confidentiality that arise as part of their work.
Practitioners will endeavour to respect and honour a client's trust by maintaining their
privacy and by clearly explaining the limits of confidentiality.

Confidentiality should only be overridden by legal requirements such as child protection
issues, court orders, ethical considerations or when disclosure is required to prevent
significant harm to the client or others.

Appointments must not be recorded by visual or audio technology, listened to or
observed by anyone, unless the client has given informed consent.

E2. Client's Records

Practitioners recognise that clients have a right to access their records and that
disclosure to others of information from these records only occurs with written consent
from the client and/or when required by law. Practitioners will store, handle, transfer and
dispose of client's records in a way that ensures confidentiality, security and safety.

E3. Consultation with Other Practitioners

Practitioners may consult with other professionally competent persons about a client.
The identity of the client is only to be revealed as required by law, professional practice
or with the client's consent.

E4. Therapeutic Community/Group Work

Practitioners aim to be aware of the different dynamics that exist in group work and
therapeutic communities. They will explain to clients the limitations of confidentiality and
subsequent implications of these settings.

Ethical Decision Making Model

1. Stop And Think

  • Stop the momentum of events long enough to permit calm analysis
  • Wise decisions require freedom from pressure and an alertness of mind
  • Is it an ethical issue?

2. Review

  • Ensure you have the full and relevant information on the matter
  • Consider your values and assumptions
  • What ethical guidelines are relevant to this situation?
  • What is the key ethical issue?

3. Make A List Of Options

  • Make a list of options and set actions
  • What are the most important principles, and what are the risk/benefits if these principles are acted upon?

4. Consultation

  • Consultation with colleagues, supervisors and others
  • Look for analogous cases

5. Choose Course Of Action

  • What course of action will produce the most good and the least harm?
  • Which option respects the rights and dignity of all stakeholders or provides fair treatment?
  • Will I feel the same about this situation if I think about it for a little longer?
  • What would you do if everyone was watching?
  • Reflect on the golden rule - Treat others only in ways that you're willing to be treated in the same situation
  • Am I comfortable with this decision?

6. Implement Decision

7. Evaluate Decision

  • How did the decision turn out for all concerned?
  • If it happened again would I do anything differently?