Australians really are the biggest losers
Australians gamble - and lose - more than anyone else on a per-person basis, according to a new report cited in the latest edition of The Economist.
Michael Moore, Chief Executive Officer of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) says: "The biggest chunk of this is apparently spent on video poker machines, according to the report by a British consultancy firm."
"Evidence from overseas indicates that greater regulation of interactive gambling can have a significant impact – perhaps this is also an area that could be pursued by Australian governments given the disproportionate losses being experienced."
According to the article:
America remains the world's biggest market, but its global share has fallen from nearly a third to a quarter in the past decade. This is partly because of a ban on most interactive gambling (sports betting and other games played on mobile phones, computers or interactive TV).
"In Australia there are significant political, economic and cultural obstacles to promoting responsible gambling. State and Territory governments in Australia derive an average of 10 per cent or more of their taxation revenue from legalised gambling," explained Moore.
"The effects of problem gambling are not confined to the individual. It has been estimated that one compulsive gambler affects on average 5-10 other people. Problem gambling may also impact on the community in terms of lost productivity, increased pressures on financial, legal and social services, and the costs of criminal behaviour.
"Legislative change is required to give effect to the 2011 recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform, in order to minimise and prevent avoidable harm experienced by individuals, families and communities."
PHAA believes the Australian government should play a lead role – in partnership with State and Territory governments, in ensuring that harm minimisation strategies are adopted, with specific focus on development of product safety guidelines and reviews, development and enforcement of responsible gambling practices, and comprehensive and continuing assessment of the costs and benefits of specific gambling modes and practices.
Moore continued: "A mandatory pre-commitment system for poker machines would form part of this approach – in line with the 2011 recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform."