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Study Shows More South Australians Gambling Online

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Earlier this month, South Australian Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink released the results of a report that studied the prevalence of South Australians gambling online in 2018. And it shows that more people are gambling online than ever before, as the number has tripled since 2012.

Lensink was elected to the Legislative Council in 2003, then served as its Liberal Deputy Leader from 2008 to 2017. In early 2018, she was then appointed as the Minister for Human Services. The role’s duties include responsibility for overseeing social housing, disability, communities and social inclusion, as well as issues affecting women, youth, and volunteers.

Lensink viewed the latest South Australians gambling online numbers as valuable insight. She subsequently plans to use it to shape future gambling policies, programs, and services.

South Australians Gambling Online Rises

The most notable number from the 157-page report is that South Australians gambling online reached 13% in 2018. That significantly higher than the 5% reported in 2012.

Of the 20,000 South Australians surveyed, they most frequently bet online for fantasy sports (76% more likely to be played online), novelty events (61% more likely online), and traditional sports (75% online).

The most likely online gamblers are men, aboriginal people, single or divorced or separated people, unemployed people, and those with a household annual income of less than $25K per year. Online gamblers also tend to be between the ages of 18 and 24.

Overall gambling has decreased from 69% to 65%, but this doesn’t outweigh the online gambling increase. Rather, it shows that many people who are unable to gamble at in-person venues will find what they seek at online betting sites.

Lensink commented that the information in the survey offers more insight into those harmed by gambling and others around them who feel harm. And it gives Lensink ideas to work on the problem areas:

“The survey data allows us to better target these services and inform our plans for raising awareness about gambling harm and reducing the stigma around seeking help,” she said. “This information shows us where we can best place our efforts for intervention and education activities that will complement existing multilingual resources and continue to make problem gambling help resources more accessible to different cultural groups.”

The survey also showed that a third of problem gamblers reported that they did seek help via some type of public service in the past year. Lensink was encouraged by this, stating; “We’re aiming to increase this figure amongst at-risk groups in future years.”

Further South Australians Gambling Online Findings

Overall, the most popular forms of gambling included scratch and other lottery tickets at 48%, followed by raffle-style lotteries at 26%, gaming machines or gaming terminals at 19%, horse or dog races at 12%, sports betting at 7%, and casino or other table games at 7%.

– Respondent Classification

Of the respondents to the survey, they classified themselves in this manner:

  • Non-problem gamblers = 57.2% (down from 58.6% in 2012)
  • Non-gamblers = 35.3% (up from 31.1% in 2012)
  • Low-risk gamblers = 4.6% (down from 7.1% in 2012)
  • Moderate-risk gamblers = 2.2% (down from 2.5% in 2012)
  • Problem gamblers = 0.7% (up from 0.6% in 2012)

It should also be mentioned that internet gamblers were much more likely to classify as at-risk gamblers than traditional live gamblers. Case in point, internet numbers are at 9.6% and live at 3.2%. When taking lottery tickets out of the picture, that number went down only very slightly.

– At Risk Categories

The at-risk gambler category was broken down to better indicate where resources may be focussed going forward:

  • Men = 4.1% (women = 1.8%)
  • Unemployed = 5.4%
  • Lowest household income bracket = 4.3%
  • Single = 4.8%
  • Divorced or separated = 4%
  • Aged 18-24 = 4.5%
  • Non-English speakers at home = 4.2% (English-only speakers = 2.8%)
  • Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders = 5.6%

Another important finding pertained to problem gamblers. They tend to gamble more often and play with higher stakes, no matter the activity. On electronic machines, for example, 40% of problem gamblers played more than once per week on average, played $1 machines or higher, and bet the maximum amount available.

Problem gamblers were 75% more likely to have had a binge gambling session in the past year. In addition, they were 65% more likely to be alone when binge gambling.

On the downside, though, only 36% of problem gamblers admitted to using a gambling help service in the past year.

Current Services

The Department of Human Services has an Office for Problem Gambling that offers a number of services to South Australians at no charge. However, with Lensink seeking to increase the number of problem gamblers who seek help, it is likely that she will appeal for more funding or expanded opportunities to grow these programs:

  • General or financial counselling, intensive therapy via 28 services
  • 24/7 gambling helpline for online and telephone support
  • Harm minimization materials in gambling venues