Gambling has become a way of life in Australia. Whether it’s wagering at the track, a flurry on the pokies, or betting online, Aussie gambling has seen exponential growth over the years. While it’s generally considered a favorite pastime, it’s also a big concern for those who deal in addiction.
A few years ago, statistics showed that 80% of Australians engaged in some form of gambling at least once a year. That doesn’t sound so appalling, especially when you factor in Two-Up on Anzac Day and the Melbourne Cup – the two biggest Aussie gambling days of the year. But new research indicates gambling has become a much larger part of our lives.
60% of Aussies Gambling, 20% Betting Online
A new poll conducted by Galaxy Research surveyed 1000 Aussies, and discovered that 60% are engaging in some form of wagering on a weekly basis. In doing so, they’re losing, on average, $3,100 a year.
Aussie gambling isn’t just taking place at the track, over the phone or at retail shops anymore, either. According to the study, one in five of the people surveyed admitted they are betting online, either exclusively or as an added element of their overall gambling.
The most prevalent form of gambling among those polled is the purchasing of lottery tickets, with 52% of respondents being regular lottery players. Pokies came in as the second most popular form of betting, encompassing 20% of Aussies. Punting on the ponies came in a close third with 19%, followed by online sports betting at 18%. Interestingly enough, land-based casino gambling came in dead last at just 14%.
Analysis from the ‘Experts’
The study was commissioned by Fox Symes Debt Solutions, whose Executive Director, Deborah Southon, found the prominence of betting online by younger Australians to be the most alarming aspect of all.
Southon blamed the use of mobile devices among young Aussies for an outbreak in gambling addiction. “A lot of these young kids have grown up with the internet and they are comfortable with it,” she said.
That statement contradicts a previous study that found, “individuals who gamble online may have lower rates of gambling problems.” That data concluded that punters who are exclusively betting online are less likely to suffer from addiction than those who wager offline only, or a combination of online and offline.
In fact, that data indicated that the majority of Aussie gambling addicts gamble in both live and online capacities, and that, “The relationship between Internet and problem gambling is likely mediated by the use of land-based gambling.”
Online Betting a Secondary Concern to Pokies
The new poll also found that gambling is more prominent among males than females. Fiona Guthrie, CEO of Financially Counselling Australia, made note of that, especially in regard to sports betting over the internet.
“Online sports betting, particularly with young men, is growing exponentially,” she said. “It’s become normalised, it’s all over television.”
However, she believes betting online is only a secondary concern, while “pokies remained the single biggest harmful addiction” in the country.
Being the head of a major company that offers financial counseling to Aussie gambling addicts, she’s an advocate for the current gambling reforms moving through parliament. “We not trying to prohibit gambling,” she explained. “Australians have always had a punt and they will continue to do so but the problem is some forms of gambling are really dangerous, for example poker machines.”