Australians still Gambling Heavily

Studies have shown that Australians gamble more than any other country from a per-capita perspective. And recent statistics reveal that Australians are still gambling far more than anybody else out there.

As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, Australians bet $6.5 million in the September quarter, which breaks down to $1,000 for every Australian. 2015 as a whole has seen the country’s residents wager $24.1 billion so far, which is a 6.1 percent increase from the same point last year.

One thing that nobody seems to have an answer for is why Australians are playing casino games so much. This is especially the case when one considers that overall participation rates have dropped in the country. In 2000, four out of every five Australians gambled at least once a year; in 2014, only two out of three Australians gambled.

This shows that while fewer adults are gambling, those who are playing casino games are wagering more than ever.

“We’ve seen a drop in participation in gambling on a per-capita basis, but the expenditure on gambling hasn’t dropped,” said Anna Thomas, who manages the Australian Gambling Research Centre. “What we are seeing is a smaller group of people gambling more heavily.”

The vast majority of the money is being wagered on slot machines (a.k.a. pokies), of which there are over 20,000 in Australia. However, sports betting and online gambling are quickly representing a large portion of the country’s gaming too.

“There was a period through the 1990s when there was a great increase in gambling. That then tailed off in the 2000s as the community came to realise the risks involved,” Thomas explained. “But that doesn’t account for people who are still gambling and gambling at very high levels, particularly on pokie machines. There also hasn’t been a drop in problem-gambling issues. There’s a group of people in the population who are experiencing substantial harm.”

Len Ainsworth, a 91-year-old billionaire who’s made his fortune through the slots business, believes that the uptick in gambling comes from Australia having more money as a whole.

“There’s a very simple answer: over the last 62 years that I’ve been in the business each year, every year the amount of money that goes into gambling is directly related to the state of the economy,” Ainsworth said. “If the economy goes up 5 per cent, you can bet the amount gambled will go up by that or even more.”

Whatever’s driving Australian gambling, it doesn’t look to slow down any time soon – especially with more options available now than ever before.