A report from the Queensland Treasury found that in the year 2017 to 2018, $24.887 billion was lost by Australians on gambling, a 5% increase on the previous year.
Gambling losses have grown across the board, from poker machines to sports gambling, with New South Wales and Victoria the worst offenders.
Alliance for Gambling Reform Chief Advocate, Rev Tim Costello said the impacts of these disturbingly high losses could no longer be tolerated.
“Gambling harm encompasses everything from the loss of homes and relationships to the loss of lives through deaths by suicide associated with gambling harm,” Rev Costello said.
“There are direct connections in some instances between gambling harm and family violence and mental ill-health.
“When you consider for every person directly experiencing gambling harm it is estimated at least six more people connected to those people experience some impact, we are talking about an issue that affects an extraordinary number of Australians.”
NSW retained its infamous title as the state experiencing the worst gambling harm, with Victoria not far behind.
“The people of NSW increased their total gambling losses by 3.2% to $9.8 billion,” Rev Costello said.
“That’s almost what Australia spends on Newstart and sickness benefits combined!
“Victoria is sadly playing catch-up to NSW though, increasing its losses by 6.2% to $5.8 billion.
“We would like to congratulate Western Australia on reducing its gambling losses by 3.2% to $1.3 billion, and Tasmania for dropping losses by 1.6%, and the ACT by 0.4%.”
Gamblers are those who can least afford it
Rev Costello said at current rates, Australians would lose more than $25 billion gambling in 2018-2019.
“That’s a number over which our political leaders should be hanging their heads in shame,” he said.
“So much of that money is coming from people who can least afford it.
“This is an industry that literally preys on people, designing poker machines to addict people, inducing people with gambling problems to continue to gamble with promises of so-called free bets and the like.”
Rev Costello said relentless betting ads have helped to double the size of the sports betting industry since 2013-2014.
“Is it any wonder this is happening in Australia when our national sporting codes have partnerships with gambling companies, and gambling advertising is so prolific on television, radio, online and in outdoor advertising?
“Our governments can and should do better. It’s time they cared about Australians instead of the wealthy few people and companies draining our citizens.
“It’s time that gambling harm is addressed as the public health issue it so clearly is.”
The Minister responsible for Liquor and Gaming in Queensland, Yvette D’Ath was approached for comment.
Most Aussies believe ‘Gamble Responsibly’ has no effect
A poll by YouGov has found almost no Australians believe the slogan ‘gamble responsibly’ is effective in reducing problem gambling.
The poll of over 1,000 people found that almost three-quarters of Australians believe the phrase has no effect, while only 19% believe it has some effect and just 3% believe it is effective.
Older Australians were the most likely to think the slogan has no effect, with 78% of those aged over 60 sceptical about its impact.
Although slightly less sceptical, the majority of those aged 40-59 and 18-39 agreed the slogan had no effect (69% and 63% respectively).
People who didn’t gamble or gambled very rarely were among the least convinced that the phrase has an impact (74% and 71% respectively).
Among regular gamblers and those who gamble at least a few times a month, 58% believe the slogan has no effect, while just 7% believe it is effective.