Australians Still World's Biggest Gamblers in 2015

Australians Still World's Biggest Gamblers in 2015Australians are considered the world’s biggest gamblers, and despite all attempts to curtail their gambling activities, during the third quarter of 2015 the country’s citizens spent a record AU$6.5 billion (US$4.8bn) gambling. As well as being 6.1% higher than Q3 2014, that figure is equivalent to more than A$1,000 (US$734) per Australian, or twice that of USA citizens, and nearly three times that of the UK.
On a positive note, there are indications that the government’s efforts to reign in the gambling industry has had some positive impact. In the year 2000, for instance, roughly 80% of Australians said that they had gambled, but by 2014 that figure had been reduced to 64%. Unfortunately, this also implies that while there are increasingly less Australians gambling, the ones who have continued are now gambling more than ever before. Commenting on the worrying trend, Dr Anna Thomas from the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) explained:
“There was a period through the 1990s when there was a great increase in gambling. That then tailed off in the 2000s as the community came to realize the risks involved. But that doesn’t account for people who are still gambling and gambling at very high levels, particularly on pokie machines. There also hasn’t been a drop in problem-gambling issues. There’s a group of people in the population who are experiencing substantial harm.”
In fact, around 400,000 Australians are now thought to have developed a gambling problem, representing roughly 1.7% of the country’s 23 million population. While some have pointed towards the increasing popularity of online sports betting and casino games as one of the factors contributing to this tragedy, most seem to agree that it is the widespread availability of slot machines (aka pokies), at land-based venues that have had the greatest effect. As Dr. Sally Gainsbury from the Centre for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University explains:
“Pokies are the biggest revenue generator. Around two-thirds of all gambling losses are through the pokies and in Australia that amounts to around AU$9.8 billion a year”.
There are thought to be more than 200,000 pokies distributed in casinos, pubs, bars and clubs across the whole Australia, with often a “conveniently” placed cash machine located close by. While the country’s states collect around AU$5.9 billion each year from gambling taxes, the social cost to the country is estimated to be around A$4.7 billion.


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