Gambling Research Australia (GRA), a partnership between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to initiate and manage a national gambling research program, has released their second National Study of Interactive Gambling in Australia (2019-2020). The purpose of the study was to update and expand on a previous study done in 2014, and to evaluate how the interactive gambling environment has changed in the country since that time.
Along with other findings, it has been concluded that the number of online gamblers in Australia has more than doubled in the last 8 years. In the adult population, interactive gamblers comprise a 17.5% segment. Gambling is a popular pastime among men aged 20-49 years. Almost one-third of all gamblers are estimated to bet and play online and continued growth is expected to be seen on both segments.
Conducted by researchers at Central Queensland University, the report used a multi-stage methodology and sources to examine interactive gambling which included a review of literature, national telephone survey, national online survey of gamblers, interviews with online gamblers, environmental scan, longitudinal cohort study, and a compilation of data obtained from gambling help services.
What the Numbers Revealed
A total of 15,000 citizens were surveyed by telephone and 5,019 were surveyed online. Based on the data gathered from the telephone interviews, it discovered that the prevalence of online gambling has increased 9.4% from the 2010 baseline number of 8.1%, more than doubling the number of online gamblers within the study period to 17.5%.
Overall, gambling has dropped from 64.3% level of participation (2010) to 56.9% (2019). However, 41.7% of those who gambled online had played at offshore sites not approved by the Australian government.
While overall gambling activities (sports betting, online casino, online poker) decreased, the study found there was an increased in Aussies who had experience some degree of harm or risk from their gambling behavior over the last decade.
Problem gambling among the population doubled from a measly 0.6% (2010) to 1.23% (2019). Low risk and moderate risk gambling rates remained stable throughout the study period. Interactive gamblers were found to be more prone to develop risk factors, but almost half of them admitted that land-based gambling was the most problematic for them.
What Australians are Playing Online
The results from the online survey revealed that the most popular form of online gambling in Australia was instant scratch tickets, followed by:
- Instant scratch tickets - 26.3%
- EGMs - 15.8%
- Casino games - 15.7%
- Poker - 15%
- Bingo -13.9%
- Skin gambling (virtual goods) - 9%
Meanwhile, the telephone survey revealed lower numbers for the types of online betting that are provided legally in the country:
- Lotteries - 10.1%
- Race betting - 5.9%
- Sports betting - 5.8%
Despite the study being conducted scientifically with reliable methodologies and data, some limitations included oversampling of males, a low response rate, and contacting only mobile numbers in the national telephone survey. In addition, there was the small number of in-person interviews, self-selecting for online survey takers, and the fact that cross sectional data and self-reporting could not be used to establish causality.