Gambling is a popular pastime among many Australians. More than half of the population engage in gambling of some kind. Looking at how much money Australians spend on gambling, it is not a surprise that the country is a hotbed of gambling-related problems. Every year, Australians gamble away billions and more than half is lost on poker machines (also known as pokies) at pubs and clubs. Australia has the highest saturation of pokies in comparison to any other country in the world and experts believe that the high number of gambling machines is to blame.
According to the latest news, there is a significant change in the Australians’ gambling habits. The results from the Social and Economic Impact Study (SEIS) was released earlier today only to inform that Tasmanians have started to gamble less. In 2017, Tasmanians spent on average about AU$950 per capita a year on gambling. In 2011, it was estimated that Tasmanians gambled away AU$1,054 per capita, while in 2013 the figures show that the average annual spend on gambling activities is $927. It can be concluded that the total gambling expenditure in Tasmania has been gradually decreasing.
Apart from that, the study found out that the interest in the video poker machines has started to decline and Tasmanians prefer to enjoy some form of online gambling on their mobile devices. The figures show that more than 1 in every 10 Tasmanian adults participated in some form of online gambling via their portable devices. The study included 5,000 Tasmanians aged 18 years and over, who were asked questions related to their gambling habits.
The Truth Behind the Results According to Gambling Opponents
Speaking of the results, Treasurer Peter Gutwein explained that pokies expenditure in Tasmania witnessed a steep decline of 27%, while the online gambling witnessed a surge of over 54% over the last three years. The vocal opponents of the poker machines argued that the number of problem gamblers is not decreasing and the government should take preventive measures to protect the Tasmanian community.
Labor’s Shadow Treasurer Scott Bacon explained that Peter Gutwein kept the results of the report under wraps since December last year, as these show that Peter Gutwein provided inaccurate information regarding the number of jobs in the hospitality industry that are directly dependent on the presence of poker machines in pubs and clubs. According to Mr. Bacon, the government claimed that around 5,000 jobs are dependent on gaming in local pubs and clubs. Anti-gambling campaigners asked for a reform in the local gambling framework, explaining that the problem is still not resolved.
It is interesting to note that last year, the Tasmanian Labor Party unveiled a policy to drastically reduce the number of poker machines or totally remove the gambling machines from pubs and clubs by 2023. The move to ban the machines was triggered by the record-high gambling losses.