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Settlement Guide: The impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour

Gambling addicted man in front of online casino slot machine on his laptop computer- losing money online. Source: iStockphoto

While the pandemic lockdowns limited access to physical gambling venues, the impact of lockdown hasn’t shrunk the actual offering of gambling products in Australia. Increases in online gambling and wagering app downloads reflect a shift in behaviour, with a worrying spike in gambling issues among younger Australians.

With limited opportunities for land-based gambling during COVID-19, Rebecca Jenkinson says the AGRC's research showed the median amount gambled dropped for men and women older than 34 from 23 per cent to eight per cent.

Among all participants, females, who spent their money mainly on lotto and lottery products, were less at risk of gambling-related problems than males, 67 per cent compared to 84 per cent.

However, for Jenkinson, the biggest concern is the group of young men who have increased their median monthly gambling expenditure from $687 to $1,075 according to her study.

The significant proportion of the young men in this sample, in fact, nine out of ten young men would be classified as being at risk of or already experiencing some gambling-related harm. A lot of these young men did sign up for new online accounts during Covid, so they have more accounts now. We found that around 20 per cent of people reported the first gambling when they were under 18, so one of the things that we really want to do is delay uptake or initiation in gambling certainly until young people are at least 18 years old.

For in-language fact sheets and brochures on a range of different topics around problem gambling, including how to talk to your teens about digital gaming, visit the Gambling Awareness Project website.

The Multicultural Problem Gambling Service for New South Wales offers confidential, free telephone or face-to-face counselling in a preferred language on 1800 856 800.

In Victoria, Gambler’s Help provides free and confidential support in Arabic, Cantonese Mandarin and Vietnamese. An interpreter can be arranged for other languages on request. Visit for more information or call 1800 858 858.

If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, contact Gambler’s Help through the National Relay Service. For more information, visit .

Chat counselling, email support and self-help services are free, confidential and available 24/7 at Gambling Help Online across Australia.

To hear the full audio, please click on the audio player above. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 meters away from others. Find out what restrictions are in place for your state or territory.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments.

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