Australians spend nearly $20 billion each year on gambling and most is poured into the country’s 200,000 poker machines. With growing concerns about the damage done to individuals and families, a parliamentary committee is looking for remedies to problem gambling.
For each addicted gambler up to 10 more people are seriously affected.
Far too many Australians are losing large sums of money through gambling, and it’s hurting their savings accounts. This isn’t a hit piece on gambling, but it’s interesting and even a little depressing to see the effect that rampant gambling can have on people. In ways that go beyond just their bank accounts.
• Nearly two in every three adult Australians, about 11 million people, participated in some form of gambling. Last year among whom 1.1 million gambled 10 per cent or more of their annual income.
• The proportion of Australians who gamble has fallen from 76 per cent 10 years ago, a significant decline that has occurred in almost every state and territory.
• Australians spent $18.1 billion on gambling in 2011 with $10.9 billion or 60 per cent going into poker machines (down from $14 billion 10 years ago).
• Average Australian spends $1,641 a year on gambling while the average poker machine player spends $2,407 a year.
• At risk or problem gamblers spend an average of $11,500 each a year; they tend to be older, living alone and retired, to be in the lower socio-economic group and with poorer education.
• More than one in four adult Australians played poker machines in 2011. And also more than half bought lottery tickets or ‘scratchies’.
• All forms of gambling are trending down except for racing and sports betting where spending increased to $3.6 billion in 2011: $2.6 billion on racing and $1 billion on sports betting.
• Gambling rates vary considerably from state to state: Western Australia has the highest gambling rate despite a ban on poker machines. Lotteries there are highly popular. Queensland has the next highest participation rate. Particularly in rural areas that have many league clubs while Victoria has the lowest.
• Older Australians gamble more than younger. While 63 per cent of the adult population gamble, only 44 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds do.