Aussies world's biggest gamblers: report

Australians are the world's biggest punters with gambling losses at $1114 per resident last year, a new report says.


(AAP) Source: SBS

Aussies love a punt and new research shows we wager more, and lose more, than any other country in the world.

A report, published in The Economist, puts Australian gambling losses at about $1144 per resident.

But we're only the world's biggest punters because we have the most opportunity to fritter cash away, anti-gambling campaigners say.

"Gambling is just like eucalyptus oil - it's natural," Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce chairman Tim Costello told AAP.

"But in Australia we've allowed gambling to proliferate more than anyone else in the world."

Monash University gambling researcher Dr Charles Livingstone says Australia has the highest concentration of poker machines in the world.

The biggest clusters are in disadvantaged areas along the east coast, fuelling domestic violence, crime and mental illness, he said.

The average Aussie lost about $520 on non-casino poker machines last year, the report by British consultancy firm H2 Gambling Capital said.

Independent MP Nick Xenophon says the figures are an "urgent wake-up call" for politicians.

"Let's not forget that, with pokies, 40 per cent of losses come from problem gamblers, with five to 10 people affected by each problem gambler," he said.

Senator Xenophon is renewing his push for maximum $1 bets on poker machines with hourly losses capped at $120, in line with recommendations of the 2010 Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform.

There should also be more funding to rehabilitate problem gamblers and a clamp-down on online and sports betting, he said.

But Public Health Association of Australia Chief Executive Officer Michael Moore says there are significant political, economical and cultural obstacles to promoting responsible gambling.

"State and territory governments in Australia derive an average 10 per cent or more of their taxation revenue from legalised gambling," he said.

Although Australia had the biggest gambling losses per resident, America had the biggest loss of any nation at $136 billion.

Australians lost a total $21.5 billion, the report said.

2 min read
Published 4 February 2014 at 4:53pm
Source: AAP