On 29 November 2012, the Federal Parliament passed gambling reform legislation that will see the most significant and far reaching national reforms put in place to reduce the harm from poker machines.
There continues to be strong interest in our community about these changes and how they apply to gambling venues so it is important that Australians have the facts on what is happening.
These changes are designed to help protect problem gamblers and their families and are based on the expert recommendations of an independent economic advisory body – the Productivity Commission.
GAMBLING IN AUSTRALIA
• For most people, gambling is a form of entertainment that is enjoyed responsibly.
• Many Australians gamble in some form at least once a year, whether it’s an occasional flutter at the races, buying a lottery ticket, playing the pokies or a night out at the casino.
• In 2009, 70 per cent of Australians participated in some form of gambling.
• Australians spent more than $19 billion on gambling in 2008-09; around $12 billion of which was spent playing the pokies.
• Some people can experience significant harm from gambling.
• Up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or are, problem gamblers.
• The social cost to the community of problem gambling is estimated to be at least $4.7 billion a year.
• The actions of one problem gambler negatively impacts the lives of between five and 10 others. This means there are up to five million Australians who could be affected by problem gambling each year, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem.
• Only around 15 per cent of problem gamblers seek help.
PROBLEM GAMBLERS AND POKER MACHINES
• One in six people who play the pokies regularly are problem gamblers.
• Problem gamblers lose around $21,000 each year. That is one third of the average Australian salary.
• Some poker machines can be played at extremely high intensity – a gambler could lose more than $1,500 in just one hour.
• Poker machine players are most likely to be young people (18-24 year olds). Many adult problem gamblers report having developed gambling problems between the ages of 11 to 17. • Between 75 to 80 per cent of problem gamblers in NSW, SA and Victoria have problems with poker machines.
IMPACT OF PROBLEM GAMBLING
• Approximately 1,600 divorces can be linked to gambling each year in Australia. • 15-20 per cent of problem gamblers have a drug or alcohol dependence and are three times more likely to smoke daily than non-problem gamblers. • Children with a parent who is a problem gambler are more likely to develop problem gambling behaviours.
Myths and Facts
MYTH: Problem gambling is easy to recognise.
FACT: Only 15 per cent of problem gamblers seek counselling and support for their problem. Many can go on for years hiding their gambling problem from others.
MYTH: Problem gambling only affects older people.
FACT: Research shows that the majority of problem gamblers are young people between 18-24 years of age. Many of these are men, some with young families to support.
MYTH: If you want to play the pokies you will have to be fingerprinted.
FACT: The Government is not implementing a system thatwill require invasive personal data collection such as fingerprinting and biometrics. The pre-commitment system may instead use a card, like the club membership and loyalty program cards many players already have.
MYTH: Problem gambling is not really a problem if the gambler can afford to still pay bills.
FACT: The impact of problem gambling is not only financial. Spending excessive time gambling means less time spent with family and friends. For those with a severe problem, it can cause relationship and family