Latest Study of Gambling and Health in Victoria Refutes Claims of Gambling Explosion in Australia
The Victoria provincial government through the Department of Justice and Regulation recently released the latest report exploring the prevalence of gambling within the state’s territorial jurisdiction. Entitled “Study of Gambling and Health in Victoria,” the survey aims to identify emerging trends and new issues that the Victoria government must take into consideration, six years after a similar comprehensive study was undertaken in 2008.
Contrary to claims by gambling oppositionists, the survey results showed that growth in gambling activities did not reach the so-called “explosive” level. The overall results of the 2014 survey show that the proportion of gambling participation had in fact declined by 4.8 per cent. Whereas the study in 2008 showed that 21.5 per cent of the large samples surveyed participated in gambling activities, the figure is now down to 16.7 percent.
The report also stated that there is no significant shift in the percentage of gamblers likely to develop problem-gambling behavior. Those with existing gambling problems gave indications of gambling with more intensity. Survey data gathered from interviews indicated that although participation in online gambling remains low, the marked increase in betting activities among problem gamblers were via online betting facilities.
Schottler Consulting conducted the survey in year 2014 from June to November, by way of landline and mobile phone interviews. The firm studied 13,584 randomly selected adult Victorians, and for the first time, included participants from mobile-only households. Based on the results of the survey, gambling activities were high in three areas, namely in the lotteries such as Lotto, Powerball, Pools, raffles and other forms of sweepstakes, in race betting and in other competitions.
Gambling on scratchtickets declined by 4.85 percent as the previous 2008 figure of 15.31 per cent went down to 10.46 percent in 2014.
Betting activities on races increased slightly by 3.71 per cent, at 20.11 percent in 2014 from a previous 16.40 percent recorded in 2008. Participation in sports and event betting rose to 1.15 percent, at 5.11 percent in 2014 from a previous 3.96 per cent in 2008. The overall survey results suggests that increased male participation gave rise to the growth of sport betting activities, while increase in female participation contributed to the growth of horse race betting. The report suggests that the noted increase in the number of females engaged in wagering activities was due to the inclusion of the 2014 Spring Racing events.
However, the increase in sport betting activities was noted as mostly coming from individuals with existing gambling problems. The prevalence of problem gambling behavior was evident among Victorian adults, who represented 0.81 percent of those interviewed. Those identified as currently experiencing the harms of gambling have been identified as residents of Torres Strait Islands.
The study also revealed that gambling with pokie machines declined as well. Only 15.2 percent of the respondents gambled on pokie machines in 2014, denoting a 6.5 per cent decrease when compared to the 21.5 per cent proportion reported in 2008. Still, the total proportion of pokie players who engaged in online pokies had increased significantly, from the 1.69 percent surveyed in 2008 to 7.25 percent in 2014.