New South Wales is gradually losing interest in gambling
According to a recent study commissioned by the NSW Responsible Gambling Fund, the gambling activity in NSW has been falling for the past eight years. In 2011, a similar study found that roughly 65% of surveyed people were involved in gambling. This number has fallen to 53% in 2019. Considering that the study surveyed 10,000 people the indicator should be a good representative of the general population. “Around one in two adults in NSW gamble. In the 12 months to February 2019, 53% of the NSW adult population participated in some form of gambling activity,” – states the Responsible Gambling Fund website.
As for the distribution of interest among gambling outlets, lotteries manage to attract the most interest. They are the most common form of gambling among the population. The next spot among the most popular forms of gambling is taken by gaming machines, followed by instant scratchies and race betting. Lotteries are responsible for about 37% of all gambling activity. The share of gaming machines is 16%. Instant scratchies and race betting each account for 13% of all activity. The next most popular one is Keno with 9% and then sports betting with 6%.
There isn’t much difference in terms of gambling activity among different regions of NSW, however, some regions exhibit a higher participation rate than others. The average gambling participation rate is the highest in the Far West and Mid North Coast with 65% each. The indicator for Hunter New England stands at 60% and 59% of the population is involved in some form of gambling in the Central Coast. All of these numbers are considerably higher than the average for NSW – 53%.
On the other hand, the rate of problem gambling in NSW hasn’t changed much during the years. If the rate stood at 0.8% during the 2011 survey, the number has only increased to 1% in the most recent study. With the margin of error, there might not be any increase at all.
Young gamblers are most heavily involved in problematic gambling. In general, 7.2% of all gamblers were likely to be moderate-risk or problem gamblers while the same indicator stood at 14.9% for the gamblers aged between 18 and 24. “People from all backgrounds and walks of life can experience gambling problems. However, research shows that people who experience gambling problems are more likely to be male, aged 18-24, single and unemployed,” – states the study.
It’s also interesting to look at the total spending on the activity. According to the Responsible Gambling Fund, in 2016-2017, a total of nearly $10 billion was spent on gambling in NSW. Almos $1 billion from this sum was spent on racing while the spending on sports betting constituted only $152 million. A major chunk of the total spending – $8.4 billion was spent on gaming. These numbers haven’t been updated for the current year but judging by the reports, they shouldn’t have changed by a lot.
The results of the study will be used by the NSW government to better form its programs and understand the issues of problematic gambling. The authorities put a lot of emphasis on responsible gambling, especially for younger audiences. With online gambling gaining a foothold at a very fast rate, this issue could become even more drastic. However, at the time of the survey, only 8% of the population had gambled online in the past year. Mostly, online gambling is used for race betting.
“People with gambling problems can experience harm as a result of gambling. Gambling harm can relate to financial, health, relationships, education and employment, social and psychological well-being. Gambling harm doesn’t just affect the person who gambles, it can also affect those around them. It is estimated that for every person considered a problem gambler, six people are affected,” – warns the website of the Responsible Gambling Fund.
The NSW Government has initiated may educational and treatment programs that help to alleviate the negative aspects of gambling. The survey was commissioned for the purpose of using the data to better structure these initiatives and use the resources most effectively. In 2019-2020, the government has allocated $35 million to such programs, however, there’s still much to do to support a safe gambling environment and minimize the harm brought on by the activity.