Gambling Statistics in Australia
We dive into anonymised gambling spending from more that 7,000 connected accounts to reveal key trends.
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What is gambling?
Despite technological advances bringing new ways to gamble, at its core gambling involves risking your money in the hopes of making a profit. It's generally a game of chance because there is no guarantee the spend will offer a profitable return.
Types of gambling
Advancements in technology have meant that there are more ways than ever to gamble. Some of the most common ways to gamble in Australia include:
- Poker machines
- Instant scratch-it tickets
- Sports betting
- Online gambling websites
What is 'problem gambling'?
For many Australians, gambling is a form of entertainment and it's an occasional activity they engage in. However, when this activity becomes more regular and starts holding a place of increased importance in your life, it starts to become a problem.
Problem gambling also occurs when you are unable to limit the amount of money or time spent, it can strain your relationships and your career. It can also lead to stress, mental health issues and loss of control. In fact, 0.5-1.0% of Australian adults are problem gamblers according to Central Coast Gambling Help, and a further 1.4-2.1% of adults experience moderate risks.
Q&A with a spokesperson from Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation:
- Do you think Australia has a gambling problem?
"The Foundation's principal focus is to reduce and prevent gambling harm in Victoria, but we also pay attention to issues related to gambling harm in other jurisdictions.
"In Victoria, more than two-thirds of adults (69 percent) participated in some form of gambling last year, according to the Victorian population gambling and health study 2018–2019. While most people who gamble do so without negative consequences, a significant minority do experience harm arising from their gambling.
"Harm from gambling can have significant implications for the health, wellbeing and economic security of people who are affected, either directly or indirectly.
"Harm from gambling occurs across a spectrum, from low-impact harm to severe and debilitating harm. Bankruptcy and relationship breakdown are examples from the most severe end of the spectrum, whereas low-impact harms include trouble with budgeting, managing time or being available for family and friends.
"Harms usually accumulate and, at the population level, can be widespread. In severe cases, harm from gambling results in long-term legacy and intergenerational costs, such as ongoing debt, the loss of family assets and major disruption to family networks."
- Are you worried about Australia's gambling addiction?
"Never before has gambling been so accessible or heavily promoted, especially with the advent of online and sports betting. Indeed, many young people believe it's normal to bet on sport.
"People don't have to be 'addicted' to experience gambling harm. Indeed, the majority of gambling harm in Victoria is experienced by people who do not fall into the 'problem gambling' category.
"In the only study of its kind in Australia, the social cost of all gambling in Victoria in 2014–15 was estimated at $7 billion. The highest cost related to family and relationship problems ($2.2 billion), followed by emotional and psychological issues ($1.6 billion) and then financial losses ($1.3 billion).
"It is a concern to the Foundation that gambling is heavily promoted across a range of media without addressing the risks. For example, research published in 2019 found there was an average of 374 gambling ads a day on Australian free-to-air TV in 2016. This was approximately five-times the number of alcohol ads."
- Have you seen the number of calls and emails increase during the lockdown period?
"While calls to the Helpline have generally dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number has fluctuated. In some cases, COVID-19 has created other personal challenges that people have needed to prioritise over seeking support for gambling-related harm. For some existing Gambler’s Help clients, it has been a time of increased engagement in therapeutic and financial counselling through telehealth services.
"There is anecdotal evidence, as well as direct feedback, to suggest that some people have welcomed a break from gambling with the temporary closure of venues, while others have found it a more difficult experience."
- What are key gambling trends you have seen?
"There have been reports of increased online gambling in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. None of these are based on official figures or figures from gambling businesses.
"At least some of the reported increase in online gambling has likely been due to the inability to wager at TAB shops and venues. Many, but not all race and sports bettors who usually access these retail outlets may have moved to online betting."
- How do you know it's time to get help?
"Early signs of gambling harm can include guilt, stress and regret.
"Some other common signs include:
- spending time talking or thinking about gambling
- obsessing about simulated gambling apps and games
- obsessing about odds when watching sport instead of focusing on the game
- borrowing money from family and friends
- being secretive about gambling activity
- having mood swings.
"Anyone who is affected by a gambling issue, their own or someone else's, can access free, confidential support 24/7 on 1800 858 858. During the COVID-19 restrictions, services are being provided by telephone or online, rather than face-to-face, to protect people's health. Alternatively, gamblershelp.com.au offers a range of other resources and support."
How to reduce spending on gambling:
There are many ways to help reduce spend on gambling and keep your savings secure. This includes:
- Keep track of your spending with a money app: For example, The Finder app monitors your spending habits, categorising your bills and expenses, and also provides you with ways to save money on your products.
- Get professional gambling advice from a gambling helpline. See below for a list of contacts.
- Set a budget aside for yourself and ensure you stick to it.
- When going to a venue with gaming machines, withdraw cash and leave your cards at home before you go.
- Speak to your bank about imposing credit limits.
When to get gambling help?
Knowing the early signs of problem gambling and addiction can enable you to get help early on and increase its effectiveness. When you see gambling starting to strain your daily life, or you start spending more than you can afford, it is key to get help.
Where to get help?
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