New data relating to the gambling habits of the Australian capital state has been made public. The report was compiled by the Centre for Gambling Research and funded by The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission.
The survey took six weeks to complete and involved 10,000 adult residents of the ACT. Respondents were quizzed on their gambling habits while data on expenditure and possible harm was also collected.
CGR improved on the previous 2009 and 2014 surveys by making three major changes. Firstly, there was more emphasis on mobile phone numbers as opposed to landlines. Secondly, interviews were conducted in multiple languages and finally, the sample size was increased to 10 000.
The stated major objectives of the survey were:
- Establish the pervasiveness of problem gambling.
- Use previous surveys to determine trends over time.
- Discover the specific health and well-being needs of gamblers and non-gamblers alike.
- Analyze the socioeconomic implications of gambling.
- Explore the nuances of gambling harm.
- Investigate the level of gambling harm throughout the ACT.
Participation in Gambling
- 60% of respondents admitted to participating in some form of gambling in the calendar year.
- 44% percent purchased a lottery ticket in the last year.
- Just over 20% purchased a scratch ticket.
- 20% had interacted with an electronic gaming machine in the last year.
- 14% had wagered specifically on greyhound or horse racing.
- 10% had placed sports bets over the last year.
- Australian males aged 18 to 44 were identified as the most likely to participate in gambling activities ranging from EGMs to table games.
- 64% of male respondents had participated in gambling. Female gamblers were not far behind with 56% engaged in gambling.
- Residents between the ages of 45 to 59 were, overall, most susceptible to participating in gambling activities.
- Interestingly, respondents who had never attended college were 39% more likely to gamble than those who had.
- Native Australians were shown to be much more likely to take part in gambling than non-natives.
Rates of recurrence
- 33% of those who gambled in the last year did so less than 11 times.
- 27% gambled 12 or more times in the last year.
- Men showed a higher prevalence of frequent gambling than women. Males under 30 were shown to be more regular gamblers.
- The ACT’s most popular forms of gambling (in descending order of popularity) include lottery, horse/greyhound racing, sports betting, EGMs, scratch tickets and real money pokies.
Counting the cost
- Overall gambling expenditure has declined since the 2014 survey.
- Casino Canberra, conversely, showed a 47% increase in expenditure since the previous survey.
- The average loss per ACT resident over the last year came to $699.
- Male gamblers lost 2.5 times more than females.
- Divorced gamblers’ losses totaled 3 times more than that of married individuals. Divorcees were also shown to have lost twice as much online as married respondents.
The growth of Problem Gambling
- 10% of those surveyed confirmed at least one symptom on the Problem Gambling Severity Index.
- In perspective, this represents around 34,000 individuals of the ACT population who can be identified as problem gamblers or at-risk.
- Problem gambling was 3 times more prevalent among ACT males than females.
- Males under the age of 30 were identified as being much more at-risk than females. A lack of university education also seemed to correlate to a higher incidence of problem gambling.
- The gambling activities most linked to addiction were casino table games, sports betting, informal games, and EGMs.
- 9% of those surveyed reported gambling online in the last 12 months, this translates to around 68,000 players across the ACT population.
- Males gambled online at twice the rate of females. Under 45’s were more likely to do so than their older counterparts.
- No evidence was discovered to suggest a link between online gambling and an increase in problem gambling.
- Only 24% of those who experienced problems with gambling sought help. The most common method is talking to a family member or friend.
- In the previous 12 months, only 2% of the possibly afflicted sought any form of help.
- 10% of respondents who had experienced gambling harm did not know where to seek help. Non-natives and those aged above 60 were the most likely to fall into this category.
- When asked where they might seek help, the most common answers from respondents were; the Internet (50%), problem gambling helpline (15%), and friends/family (12%).
Gambling in the public’s eye
- Overall, those surveyed seemed to have a negative view of gambling. 64% felt negatively about EGMs, while almost 75% felt that online gambling was more likely than not to be harmful.
- The idea of a pre-commitment scheme seemed popular, with 71% being in favour of such a policy with 13% disagreeing with 16% remaining undecided.
- Most adults were not aware of the ACT’s a self-exclusion program, with only 33% of those surveyed knowing about it, while just 48% of EGM players were familiar with it.
- The survey concludes that members of the ACT have a high involvement in gambling. Males below the age of 45 are most drawn in; becoming problem gamblers at a rate triple that of their female counterparts.
- Further to these issues, only 2% of those with a gambling problem seek help.
- The Australian Capital Territory’s gambling culture is moving online. The 2014 survey revealed that 8% of survey participants had gambled online. In 2019, this figure had increased to 21%.
- EGMs seem to remain the most damaging choice. Almost a third of EGM users were either at-risk or problem gamblers.
- While EGMs are a major attraction, 64% of respondents displayed a negative opinion of them. Almost half of those surveyed also agreed that the maximum wager ($10) on these games should be reduced to $6.92.