The facts

Gambling in Australia

  • For most people, gambling is a form of entertainment that is enjoyed responsibly.
  • Many Australians gamble in some form at least once a year, whether it’s an occasional flutter at the races, buying a lottery ticket, playing the pokies or a night out at the casino.
  • In 2009, 70 per cent of Australians participated in some form of gambling.
  • Australians spent more than $19 billion on gambling in 2008-09; around $12 billion of which was spent playing the pokies.

Problem gambling

  • Some people can experience significant harm from gambling. Up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or are, problem gamblers.
  • The social cost to the community of problem gambling is estimated to be at least $4.7 billion a year.
  • The actions of one problem gambler negatively impacts the lives of between five and 10 others. This means there are up to five million Australians who could be affected by problem gambling each year, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem.
  • Only around 15 per cent of problem gamblers seek help.

Problem gamblers and poker machines

  • One in six people who play the pokies regularly has a serious addiction.
  • Problem gamblers lose around $21,000 each year. That’s one third of the average Australian salary.
  • Some poker machines can be played at extremely high intensity – a gambler could lose more than $1,500 in just one hour.
  • Young people (18-24 year olds) spend more on poker machines than any other age group. Many adult problem gamblers report having developed gambling problems during their teenage years (source: Delfabbro, P, Gambling Research Australia, A review of Australian Gambling Research, August 2008, p61).
  • Three-quarters of problem gamblers have problems with poker machines. It’s even higher for women – in 9 out of 10 cases poker machines are identified as the cause of problems for women (source: Delfabbro, P, August 2008, p67).

Impact of problem gambling

  • Problem gamblers are six times more likely to be divorced than non problem gamblers (source: Thomas, S, and Jackson, A, Report to beyondblue, Risk and Protective Factors: Depression and comorbidities in problem gambling, 2008).
  • Problem gamblers are four times more likely to have problems with alcohol and four times as likely to smoke daily than non problem gamblers (source: Thomas, S, and Jackson, A, 2008).
  • Children with parents who are problem gamblers are up to 10 times more likely to become problem gamblers themselves than children with non gambling parents (source: The Problem Gambling Treatment and Research Centre, Children at risk of developing problem gambling, May 2010).