The facts about gambling

Many Australians enjoy an occasional flutter. However for some, gambling can be highly destructive – ruining lives and destroying families.

Australians spent more than $19 billion on gambling in 2014-15 of which $13 billion was spent on pokies.

As a community, we have a duty of care to make gambling safer and empower people to take control of their gambling.

Impacts

The actions of one problem gambler negatively impacts the lives of between five and 10 others. This means there are up to five million Australians who could be affected by problem gambling each year, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem.

One in six people who play the pokies regularly has a severe gambling problem.

People who have a problem with their gambling lose an average of $21,000 a year. That’s a third of the average annual salary. Hard earned money that would otherwise be used to pay bills, pay off the mortgage or take holidays with the kids.

But it’s not just about the money. It’s the harm to themselves and their family. Problem gamblers can suffer mental and physical health problems, find it difficult to hold down a job, and struggle to maintain relationships.

For many families, perhaps the biggest loss is the quality of time together, which can never be recovered. People with gambling problems are six times more likely than non-gamblers to get divorced. They are four times more likely to suffer from alcohol abuse.

So extensive are the impacts that the social cost of problem gambling to the community is estimated to be at least $4.7 billion each year.

Gambling in Australia

  • For most people, gambling is a form of entertainment that is enjoyed responsibly.
  • Many Australians gamble in some form at least once a year, whether it’s an occasional flutter at the races, buying a lottery ticket, playing the pokies or a night out at the casino.
  • In 2009, 70 per cent of Australians participated in some form of gambling.
  • Australians spent more than $19 billion on gambling in 2014-15; around $13 billion of which was spent playing the pokies.

Problem gambling

  • Some people can experience significant harm from gambling. Up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or are, problem gamblers.
  • The social cost to the community of problem gambling is estimated to be at least $4.7 billion a year.
  • The actions of one problem gambler negatively impacts the lives of between five and 10 others. This means there are up to five million Australians who could be affected by problem gambling each year, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem.
  • Only around 15 per cent of problem gamblers seek help.

Impact of problem gambling

  • Problem gamblers are six times more likely to be divorced than non-problem gamblers (source: Thomas, S, and Jackson, A, Report to beyondblue, Risk and Protective Factors: Depression and comorbidities in problem gambling,2008).
  • Problem gamblers are four times more likely to have problems with alcohol and four times as likely to smoke daily than non-problem gamblers (source: Thomas, S, and Jackson, A, 2008).
  • Children with parents who are problem gamblers are up to 10 times more likely to become problem gamblers themselves than children with non-problem gambling parents (source: The Problem Gambling Treatment and Research Centre, Children at risk of developing problem gambling, May 2010).

Quick Links

You can get immediate assistance by calling the National Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 for free, professional and confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For advice and help, visit Gambling Help Online.

Last updated: