ACT Survey Shows Concerning Gambling Numbers

The Australian Capital Territory commissioned a survey about gambling in the region over the past 12 months. The findings were more expansive and detailed than in the past.

The results of the survey, conducted by the Australian National University, were released at the end of October during Gambling Harm Awareness Week.

Study Details

The ACT Gambling Survey 2019 was commissioned and funded by the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission. Studies are regularly commissioned to monitor the social effects of recreational gambling and any type of resulting gambling harm.

The Australian National University’s Centre for Gambling Research (CGR) was the natural choice for the survey due to a solid past working relationship and the 16-year history of the center as a hub for such research. In fact, CGR was originally established as a partnership between the university and the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission.

Currently, it operates under the direction of Dr. Marisa Paterson.

This 2019 survey was the same one that has been run every five years to update statistics and programs, resources, and plans. It has three main purposes:

  • To update information about gambling and problem gambling for comparison with previous surveys and other jurisdictions
  • Assist the government’s monitoring of the social and economic impacts of gambling
  • To provide a valuable resource to tackle significant academic and social research questions

For the 2019 ACT Gambling Survey, a total of 10,000 ACT residents were interviewed, all over the age of 18 and conducted by mobile phone or landlines. The interviews took place over a six-week period from April to May 2019.

Broad Survey Results

Overall, the survey showed that 60% of adults in the ACT participated in at least one form of gambling in the past 12 months from the time of the interviews. Of that 60%, these were the most common forms of gambling (many people did more than one):

  • 44% bought at least one lottery ticket
  • 20% bought an instant scratch ticket
  • 20% used an electronic gaming machine
  • 14% bet on a horse or greyhound race
  • 10% bet on a sporting event

The most likely gamblers were male and aged 18-44, and they most often engaged in keno, race and sports betting, electronic gaming machines, and casino table games.

Of all ACT males, 64% participated in at least one form of gambling, while females showed a rate of 56%.

Survey participants aged 45-59 gambled the most of any age category at 64%. People born in Australia were significantly more likely to participate in gambling than people born outside of Australia but currently living in the ACT. And the education factor showed that those topped off with a 12-year education were 39% more likely to gamble than people with post-graduate degrees.

Gambling Frequency

Of the people who gambled in the past 12 months, per the survey, they were asked to rate their gambling per these categories:

  • Low frequency = occasionally, generally less than once per month
  • Medium frequency = monthly, one to three times per month
  • High frequency = weekly, four or more times per month

One-third of the gamblers said they were in the low frequency category, while 27% were medium or high. Women were more likely to be low-frequency gamblers, with males more likely to be in the high category and under the age of 30.

The frequency of different types of gambling was:

  • Lottery = 8.4 times per year
  • Betting on horse or greyhound races = 4.8 times per year
  • Sports or special events betting = 2.9 times per year
  • Electronic gaming machines = 2.3 times per year
  • Instant scratch tickets = 1.8 times per year

Gambling Harm Statistics

While the number of 5% of ACT adults personally affected by another person’s gambling doesn’t seem significant, it does amount to 17,000 people.

More alarming was the notion that 14% of the people affected by others’ gambling habits wanted support but did not know how to obtain that help. And a quarter of the people never discussed the harmful gambling with the person doing the gambling.

Worse yet, only 2% of gamblers ever sought help for gambling in the past 12 months. Those aged 60 and older were most likely to be unaware of where to find gambling help at all. Of the 2% who sought help, half only went as far as internet searches, with 15% calling a gambling helpline and 12% approaching family members or friends.

Takeaways and Comments

Dr. Paterson noted that the results of the survey must be seriously considered, as gambling is prevalent and plays a significant role in the ACT community.

“Harms from gambling might seem small at first,” said ACT Gambling and Racing Commission CEO David Snowden, “but it can escalate quickly and significantly impact a person’s life”. He said it is important to instigate conversations with friends and family to ask about gambling habits.


Rose Varrelli

Rose Varrelli has always been passionate about online casinos, as she’s been a player at a variety of places for years. Rose turned her personal knowledge and insight into a writing career. She aims to provide readers with the most up to date, informative news in the world of online casinos!


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