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Understanding Australia's Love of Gambling

Published by Sharon Kingsby
Published on 08 Aug 2019 by Sharon Kingsby
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Real money casinos, and gambling in general has a certain allure about it, but one nation in particular has a taste for this kind of entertainment. Australians have the reputation of being the world’s most passionate gamblers and it’s a reputation that is backed by some strong numbers. H2 Gambling Capital ran a global study in 2016 and the data showed that Australian gamblers ended up losing $23.7 billion during 2016 and 2017 which show that Aussie gamblers have the highest gambling losses per head than any other country in the world.

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Singapore comes in second on the list of world’s worst gamblers with a 24.7 percent gap between Australia. H2 Gambling Capital data for 2017 shows that Australians ended up betting around $A1300 each year per capita while Singaporeans bet close to A$850 per capita.

Aussies Love to Gamble and it’s Just Growing

Aussies generally love to have fun and take a punt on just about everything in a show of sportsmanship. The gambling market gives them multiple options as Australia has its fair share of casinos spread across Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia.

Apart from betting at brick and mortar casinos, Aussies love to visits clubs and bars to place bets on pokies. The easy access to pokies as well as sports betting parlors make it easy for bettors in Australia to place wagers on the various betting options.

Throw in sports betting, horse racing and greyhound racing into the mix and you have a multi-billion dollar gambling industry that continues to grow at a rapid rate with each passing year.

This massive interest in all forms of gambling has posed issues for Aussie gamblers as well as state governments as the number of problem gamblers has continued to increase with each passing year. A 2010 Productivity Commission report warned of this rise nearly a decade ago when 115,000 Aussies were classified as gambling addicts.

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What Are Australians Betting On?

When you have a gambling market that generates more than $23.7 billion, it is important to have statistical data to see what Aussie gamblers are spending their money on.

Data from the Queensland Government Statistician's Office for 2016-2017 shows that Queenslanders spent a total of $174,633.661 million on online gaming, land based casinos and racing; $ 23,869.258 million on racing and another $10,105.302 million on sports betting.

Queenslanders ended up losing $19,318.941 million on online gaming, land based casinos and racing which works out to $1020.34 lost per capita in this group. They lost $ 3,312.714 million on racing and suffered losses of $174.96 per capita in this group.

For sports betting, Queenslanders ended up losing $1,062.000 million and losses of up to $56.09 per capita. The numbers keep increasing in all forms of betting Australian gamblers ended up betting more than 15 percent more on sports betting and another 7 percent more on racing.

While there should be concerns over the increase in sports betting and racing numbers, the biggest concerns continue to be the popularity of pokies.

Pokie Fever Won’t Leave Australians

The biggest draw for Aussie gamblers continues to be pokie machines. Australians reportedly pumped in as much as $168 billion through pokie machines and casinos. Pokie machines are so easily accessible to Australians that most Aussies can find one within a short drive. Stats show that there were more readily accessible pokie machines in communities that had low household incomes than they were in communities that were more affluent.

This is a strategic move by gaming operators who place their pokie machines in lower income communities as they know they will see a bigger flow of traffic to their pokies. This is because Australians have taken on the mentality over the years that they can get lucky and change their financial problems overnight with a big win playing the pokies.

Offshore casino operators continue to target Australians by offering them lucrative online bonuses which generally include either free casino credits or free spins that allows them to try out different pokies from the comfort of their own homes. Since winning at a pokie machine is based purely on luck, Aussie gamblers tend to gravitate towards the pokies as it is easy to play whether online and at a casino.

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Older Generation Like Betting On Races

While the younger generation of Aussies gravitates towards pokies and online casino games, the older generation likes betting on the races. Horse racing continues to be a major sporting event in Australia and more than 1.5 million Aussies bet each year on the races according to data released by Roy Morgan Research.

The Data

The research firm released a report in June 2019 which showed that Aussies aged between 50 to 79 preferred to bet on the races. More than 10 percent of Aussies between 50 and 64 bet on the races while 9.3 percent between 65 and 79 placed bets regularly on the races compared to just 3.1 percent who were between the ages of 18 to 24.

The data also showed that when it comes to betting in general, men were more likely to place a bet than women. Stats showed that 12.3 percent of Australian males placed a bet in a 3 month period compared to just 6 percent of Australian women.

While the older generation preferred to be on races, the younger generation preferred to bet on different sports such as the AFL, Cricket and Rugby.

The Bottom Line

The biggest concern for the Australian government and state gaming regulators is to ensure that gambling lovers get the support they need and to keep problem gambling numbers in check!