Gambling In Australia
Gambling is a popular entertainment among Australians. Over 80% of Australian adults engage in gambling of some kind, which is the highest rate of gambling in the world.
Gambling is also a significant public health issue, with around 80,000 to 160,000 (or 0.5 - 1.0%) of Australian adults experiencing significant problems from gambling and a further 250,000 to 350,000 (or 1.4 - 2.1% of adults) experiencing moderate risks that may make them vulnerable to problem gambling.
Australia's Gambling Environment:
Australians love a punt and new research shows we wager more, and lose more, than any other country in the world. But some people say this is just because we have the most opportunity to gamble, given the huge numbers of venues that provide some form of gambling.
The 2010 Productivity Commission's Inquiry into Gambling found that there are as many as 6,807 hotels, pubs and clubs providing gaming in Australia. There are at least 4700 lottery outlets. And there are 13 casinos with more being planned.
According to 2014 statistics Tabcorp Limited offers totalisator and fixed odds betting on racing and sporting events in approximately 2,800 TAB retail outlets in agencies, hotels, clubs, as well as on-course in Victoria and New South Wales, and via internet, mobile devices, phone and pay TV. Sky Racing also owned by Tabcorp, is available in approximately 2.6 million homes and 5,400 commercial outlets in Australia, covering 90,000 races per annum. There are approximately 3,600 Keno outlets in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and approximately 6,200 Keno terminals
All states and territories in Australia have Electronic Gaming Machines (also known as gaming machines, EGMs, poker machines or 'pokies') available at licensed venues (with the exception of Western Australia which allows EGMs only at the casino and the ACT where Casino Canberra is not licensed to provide EGMs)
According to the World Count of Gaming Machines 2013, Australia has the sixth highest number of gambling machines in the world. Australia is estimated to have 198,150 electronic gaming machines (EGMs), which is 2.58% of the world's legally installed machines.
Around 600,000 Australians (4 per cent of the adult population) play on the 'pokies' at least weekly. While survey results vary, around 15 per cent of these regular players (95 000) are 'problem gamblers'. And their share of total spending on machines is estimated to range around 40 per cent.
The problems experienced by gamblers are as much a consequence of the technology of the games, their accessibility and the nature and conduct of venues, as they are a consequence of the traits of the gamblers themselves. NSW machines currently allow bets of up to $10,000 at a time. Current machines have up to 25 pay lines. In NSW the current max bet is $10 per spin.
Gambling in NSW:
New South Wales has a long history of gambling; Australia's first official horse racing meeting occurred in 1810 at Hyde Park in Sydney; the first official Australian lottery occurred in 1881 at the Sydney Cup; and registered clubs operated the first legal poker machines in Australia in 1956.
Approximately 95,800 of Australia's "pokies" are in NSW, a state total beaten only by Nevada, which operated 181,109 gambling machines in 2014, and of course is home to Las Vagas.
The 2011 NSW Gambling Prevalence Survey found that the most popular gambling activity undertaken among the NSW adult population is lottery products (41%), followed by instant scratch tickets (28%), pokies/gaming machines (27%), horse/greyhound races (24%), Keno (14%), sports betting (8%), table games in a casino (7%), private card games for money (3%), bingo (3%) and casino or pokies-style games on the Internet (2%).
Gambling on the Central Coast
According to statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and latest figures from the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, Gosford has approximately 1928 pokies, spread across 37 venues. That is the equivalent of one poker machine for every 71 adults. In 2010-11, venues in Gosford made approximately $95,865,000 (ninety-five million, eight hundred sixty-five thousand dollars) in profit from pokies. That equates to $700 for each adult member of Gosford's population. On average, residents in Gosford are in the richest 25% of Australia's population.
Wyong has approximately 2608 pokies, spread across 35 venues. That is the equivalent of one poker machine for every 47 adults. On average, residents in Wyong are in the poorest 47% of Australia's population. In 2010-11, venues in Wyong made approximately $123,159,000 in profit from pokies. That equates to $1,000 for each adult member of Wyong's population.
The Central Coast has a higher prevalence of problem gambling than the NSW average. Young men between the ages of 18-24 living on the Central Coast are the biggest players of poker machines in NSW and are the highest risk group for problem gambling.
In 2008 Gambling Solutions carried out a survey of 200 young people aged from 13-24 and found that:
- 96% of people from 18-24 had gambled for money or possessions
- 62 % of those under 14 years old and 77 % of those aged up to 17 had gambled for money or items, including mobile phones and MP3 players
- 25.5% of 14-17 year olds and 55 % of 18-24 year olds had lost more than they had intended,
- and 6% under 18 had played a poker machine
Internet gambling in the Central Coast was the highest in NSW (5%). Although nearly invisible in official records, internet gambling appears to have grown rapidly, and spending could amount to around $800 million in the most recent year.