Gambling statistics in Australia: how much money we lose | Savings.com.au (2022)

Far too many Australians are losing large sums of money through gambling, and it’s hurting oursavings accounts. This isn’t a hit piece on gambling (I’ve done it myself before and will probably do it again at some point), but it’s interesting and even a little depressing to see the effect that rampant gambling can have on people, in ways that go beyond just their bank accounts.

Gambling in Australia statistics – how much do we lose?

The latest statistics published by the Queensland Treasury in the 35th edition ofAustralian Gambling Statistics(regarded as the authoritative source of gambling statistics in Australia) show that, in total, Australians bet more than$242 billionin 2017-18. Two. Hundred. Forty-Two. Billion. The previous year (16-17), this figure was $208 billion.

Averaged out across all 19.75 million Australians aged over 18 (based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data), this is more than $12,000 per person! Of the various forms of gambling:

  • $25.8 billion was spent on racing ($1,340 per capita)
  • $181.4 billion was spent on gaming, like casinos and the pokies ($9,419 per capita)
  • $11.6 billion on sports betting ($603 per capita)

That's the total amountspent:not every dollar spent on gambling is lost - that's the whole risk-reward appeal. The same report tallied our national gambling losses at just under $25 billion - $24.88 billion to be exact. Per person that's more than $1,260 lost to gambling every year, and a 5% increase on the figures from 2016-17. We can break these losses down into:

  • $3.5 billion on racing ($177 per person) - a 7.1% increase
  • $20.1 billion on gaming ($1,017 per person) - a 3.9% increase
  • $1.23 billion on sports betting ($62 per person) - a 16.3% increase

So the average man and woman over 18 in this country is losing $1,260 per yearjust on gambling. That's $1,260 that could be going towards people's loan repayments, mortgages, credit card bills, savings accounts or investments. It's an extra $1,260 that could be spent on their families or friends. And remember how averages work: there are countless people who lose well over this amount every year. Some people will be losing tens if not hundreds of thousands to the game of chance.

Alliance for Gambling Reform Chief Advocate, Rev Tim Costello said the impacts of these disturbingly high losses could no longer be tolerated.

“Gambling harm encompasses everything from the loss of homes and relationships to the loss of lives through deaths by suicide associated with gambling harm,” Rev Costello said in December 2019 when the report was released.

“There are direct connections in some instances between gambling harm and family violence and mental ill-health.

“When you consider for every person directly experiencing gambling harm it is estimated at least six more people connected to those people experience some impact, we are talking about an issue that affects an extraordinary number of Australians.”

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        The social cost of gambling

        In November 2017, the Victorian Problem Gambling Foundation found that there is more than just a personal cost to gambling in Australia. This research found that in 2014-15, the cost of problem gambling in Australia totalled $7 billion:

        • $2.2 billion – family and relationship problems
        • $1.6 billion – emotional and psychological issues, including distress, depression, suicide and violence
        • $1.3 billion – financial losses
        • $1.1 billion – costs to the Victorian government, such as research, regulation, and professional support services
        • $600 million – lost productivity and other work-related costs
        • $100 million – costs of crime

        And that’s just the state of Victoria – the total cost country-wide will be much more. So gambling can clearly cost people dearly in the form of addictive habits, emotional and mental problems, lost productivity at work, crime and the breakdown of relationships. And when you consider that the government rakes in roughly $6 billion a year in tax revenue from gambling, it appears that it does have a net-negative effect on society at the moment.

        Other key statistics

        Here are a few other key gambling statistics from theAustralian Institute of Family Studies:

        • There are 6.8 million regular gamblers in Australia – 39% of the population
        • Participation in lotteries was most common (76%), followed by instant scratch tickets (22%) and electronic gaming machines (EGMs) (21%)
        • Males are over-represented among gamblers – 54% of gamblers are males versus 49% of the adult population
        • Gamblers generally spent around half their overall gambling outlay on a single product
        • Mean expenditure was lower among gamblers whohad a university degree and lived in a house with children
        • 1.39 million Australian adults had experienced one or more gambling-related problems in 2015
        • Gamblers living in low-income households spent, on average, a much greater proportion of their household’s total disposable income on gambling than high-income households (10% vs 1%)
        • Problem gamblers in low-income households spent the greatest proportion (27%)—equivalent to four times the average yearly household utility bills

        Another fun fact:NSW pokie machines made $6.5 billion in profit in 2019 - that's roughly the GDP of the entire country of Fiji.

        How do Australian gamblers compare to other populations?

        Places like Vegas in America might be synonymous with gambling, but the United States are nowhere near us in terms of gambling losses per person. Australia is by far the gambling capital of the world when it comes to gambling losses per capita. According to a 2017 study by H2 Gambling Capital, gambling losses per capita in Australia were $US958 that year. In second was Hong Kong at $768 per capita – the United States was ninth with $421 lost per capita.

        Given the ease-of-access and normalisation of gambling in Australia, a wise punter wouldn’t put money on us losing ‘top-spot’ any time soon…

        (Video) The Magic Economics of Gambling

        Why do we bet so much?

        Thepokies

        “Australia has always embraced gambling … Having always been a culture where risk and reward reigns supreme.”

        – onlinecasinos.com.au

        Gambling is commonplace in Australian culture and it’s almost impossible to not be exposed to it, especially when watching TV or sport.

        But despite the rise of online betting on sports, racing and the winner ofThe Bachelor,pokies still reign supreme.

        The majority ($20.1 billion) of Australia's gambling losses in 2017-18 were on the pokies, called slot machines in the US and fruit machines in the UK. Australia has20% of all of them worldwide.Why? Because we're one of few countries that permits these machines outside of casinos - frequenting pubs, bars, and even sporting clubs, with the exception of Western Australia.

        In 2017,the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that there were more than 200,000 active pokie machines in Australia, with 100,000 of them in NSW. You can walk into pretty much any pub or sporting club, plonk yourself down at a machine and mindlessly press a button. In Victoria, 90% of AFL teams operate their own pokies. They’re easy to access, and they’re everywhere.

        There are regulations on pokies in Australia – you can’t place a bet of more than $5, for example, and NSW recently put a 20% cap on new pokie machines in problem gambling areas – but they appear to have little impact. These machines also have mandatory return to player ratios: at least 85% in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory, 87% in the ACT and 87.5% in South Australia. That means that over the life of the game in South Australia (often several years) it must return at least 87.5% of the wagered amounts back to the player, so amaximumof 12.5% of the turnover is retained by the gambling venues.

        Pokies are “really good at getting people hooked: Each (bet) provides a dopamine release, similar to a drug like cocaine, in your brain. They target people who are often under stress, offer a euphoric sensation, then take all their money off them.”

        – Charles Livingstone, Senior Lecturer,School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at Monash University

        In essence, each bet on the pokies makes you feel good. And when you combine this with the sheer multitude of the things around, it’s no wonder we use them so much.

        Gambling statistics in Australia: how much money we lose | Savings.com.au (5)

        Look at all the pretty colours. Source:Unsplash.

        Sports Betting

        “Online sports betting, particularly with young men, is growing exponentially, it’s become normalised, it’s all over television.”

        – Fiona Guthrie,Financially Counselling Australia CEO to News Corp

        Sports betting, particularly among young men and low-income people, is gaining popularity at an exponential rate. Betting on racing grew by just under13% from 2015-16 to 2016-17,while sports betting grew by4%.In 2017-18 there was a far more prominent growth in sports betting, with this category increasing by 14.9% year-on-year while racing grew by 8.1%.

        (Video) Australia's Great Gambling Addiction

        As at March 30 2018, gambling adsarebanned on mainstream tv during sports games before 8.30pm, as of March 2018, but platforms like youtube are exempt, so anyone in their target demographic (such as young males or people who’ve placed a bet before) are incredibly likely to see an ad from a betting company. Banner ads online are everywhere, and those who link their mobile number to betting accounts (which is often required) receive text messages about upcoming games or deals unless they respond saying ‘STOP’.

        Gambling statistics in Australia: how much money we lose | Savings.com.au (6)

        Braving many mainstream websites without an adblocker will give you a similar view.

        Source:Reddit.

        Anyone with a smartphone or laptop can open their betting app and place a punt on the game they’re watching, or one that’s taking place halfway around the world, which is a cause for concern for many high-profile people.Speaking to the ABC, Dr Chris Hunt, a clinical psychologist at the University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment and Research Centre, said: “It’s been such an ingrained part of Australian culture for such a long time.I think we should be concerned about the availability of betting and the promotion of betting in sport.”

        How gambling affects your savings

        If you're anything like the average Australian, gambling doesn't affect your savings in a good way. We've written previously about howthe average person here saves$533 per month, or $6,396 per year. The average gambling losses of$1,260 per person reduce this yearly savings amount to just over $5,137. This equates to billions of lost savings for Australians every year. And obviously, there are many problem gamblers who would be losing tens of thousands of dollars every year, far eclipsing their savings.

        Even if you don’t have a problem with gambling, the small amounts here and there can really add up over time, especially if you don’t make any returns. According to a 2012 study by the government of South Australia, 93% of non-problem gamblers bet less than $50 at any one time, but even a few of these bets can equal hundreds of dollars.

        Resources for gambling help

        Problem gambling is generally defined as:

        When betting starts to create trouble in your life, such as debt; relationship problems; loss of a job; stress or depression etc.

        If you continue to gamble despite negative consequences, or if you know you need to stop, but can’t, then you might be a problem gambler.If you’re reading this and think you might have a problem with gambling, there are numerous resources you can reach out to for help:

        To help get your finances back in order after gambling issues, you can also speak to anASIC approved financial counsellor.

        Savings.com.au’s two cents

        For non-problem gamblers, there’s the obvious tip of re-thinking every bet before you place it. The vast majority of bets are unsuccessful, and while it can be fun and increase your interest in a game, you don’t want to end up near the average person’s yearly losses. If you do end up betting, we’d recommend tracking every bet you place or every note you put into the pokies, just as you would with everything else you budget. Try one of the highly-recommendedbudgeting and savings appsfromthis listto help you with this.

        (Video) Australia’s $218 Billion Dollar Gambling Problem

        However, if you do think you have a problem with gambling, then don’t hesitate to contact one of the places listed above.

        FAQs

        How much money does Australia lose to gambling? ›

        Australians lose a staggering A$24.9 billion a year to gambling and are some of the world's heaviest gamblers per capita. Find out if policy reform can address the problem.

        How much money do people lose from gambling? ›

        And the bills pill up, accordingly. The average debt generated by a man addicted to gambling is between $55,000 and $90,000. Women gamblers average $15,000 of debt. In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in serious legal problems or financial ruin.

        What percentage of Australia has a gambling problem? ›

        In 2022, Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that more than one in 10 (11%) Australians have reported participating in online gambling at some stage in the previous 6 months. This figure is up from 8% in 2020.

        How much money is lost in gambling per year? ›

        Casino losses (table games and pokies) increased from $1.556 billion in 2016–17 to $1.679 billion in 2018–19. Casino losses decreased in 2019–20 ($1.235 billion) and 2020–21 ($399 million) due to COVID-19-related closures. Lotteries losses increased from $502 million in 2016-17 to $723 million in 2020-21.

        How are gambling losses calculated? ›

        You can include in your gambling losses the actual cost of wagers plus other expenses connected to your gambling activity, including travel to and from a casino. Keep in mind that the IRS does not permit you to simply subtract your losses from your winnings and report the difference on your tax return.

        How much does the average Australian gamble? ›

        total gambling expenditure in Australia increased from $23.694 billion in 2016–2017 to $24.887 billion in 2017–2018 (a 5.0 per cent increase) per adult gambling expenditure in Australia increased from $1,251.39 to $1,292.25 (a 3.3 per cent increase)

        Do most people lose money gambling? ›

        Among the heaviest gamblers, 95% lost money.

        What are the statistics on gambling? ›

        Over 80 percent of American adults gamble on a yearly basis. Three to five gamblers out of every hundred struggles with a gambling problem. As many as 750,000 young people, ages 14 to 21 have a gambling addiction.

        Why do most gamblers lose? ›

        The answer is simple. The games are designed mathematically in such a way that the house always has a mathematical edge over the player. Any time there's risk involved, you might lose. But with casino games, the odds are set up so that you'll lose more often than you'll win.

        Is gambling a big problem in Australia? ›

        “It's on every street corner. It's in your face.” Australia is home to less than half a percent of the world's population but has 20 percent of its pokies — and 80 percent of those located outside casinos. The result is a nation with the world's worst average gambling losses: About $1,000 per adult each year.

        How much do Australians gamble every year? ›

        Australians spend nearly $20 billion each year on gambling and most is poured into the country's 200,000 poker machines.

        Which state in Australia gambles the most? ›

        Approximately 95,800 of "pokies" are in NSW, a state total beaten only by Nevada, which operated 181,109 gambling machines in 2014. Between 1 December 2017 to 31 May 2018 NSW Clubs made a net profit of $1,945,161,625 and hotels made a net profit of $1,169,040,731 from pokies alone.

        How much do Australians lose on pokies? ›

        Australians have lost a total of $11.4 billion to the pokies in a single year, a report shows. More than 3.3 million people used gambling machines in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania in 2021 and 2022.

        How common is gambling addiction in Australia? ›

        Background. Gambling is a mainstream activity across Australia, with increasing accessibility. It is also a significant public health issue, with around 395 000 Australians experiencing harm from problem gambling.

        How many Australians are addicted to gambling? ›

        Australians gamble more than any other nation in the world, and gambling addiction rates continue to soar with over 300,000 Australians currently addicted to gambling — with countless more on the verge.

        How much losses can you write off? ›

        The IRS allows you to deduct up to $3,000 in capital losses from your ordinary income each year—or $1,500 if you're married filing separately. If you claim the $3,000 deduction, you will have $10,500 in excess loss to carry over into the following years.

        Can you claim gambling losses on your taxes Australia? ›

        What About Gambling Losses? Because the ATO does not consider gambling winnings taxable income, you can't also claim deductions for all the time you lost on the table, in a racing bet or a lottery, however grand the money involved may be.

        Are gambling losses subject to 2%? ›

        Are gambling losses deductible? Gambling losses up to the amount of gambling winnings may be deductible if you itemize. You can claim your losses on Form 1040, Schedule A, as a miscellaneous deduction not subject to 2%.

        What percentage of gamblers make money? ›

        The researchers found similar patterns: Only 13.5% of gamblers ended up winning, versus 11% among Bwin customers, and the ratios of big losers to big winners were similarly large.

        What is the most someone has lost gambling? ›

        Watanabe indulged in a year-long gambling binge in Las Vegas in 2007, mostly at Caesar's Palace. He placed a stunning $835 million in bets and lost $127 million of it. According to reports, Watanabe's excruciating losing streak is the longest Las Vegas has ever witnessed and he was seen drunk during his sessions.

        What percent of gamblers have a problem? ›

        Approximately 1 percent of the adult population in the United States has a severe gambling problem.

        How do gamblers deal with losing money? ›

        How to Mentally Cope With a Big Gambling Loss
        1. Take a Step Back. While gambling, you may not be aware of the money you have lost until it's too late. ...
        2. Try to Understand Your Habits. In trying to learn how to deal with gambling loss, take the time to ask yourself about your gambling habits. ...
        3. Accept the Losses. ...
        4. Find Support.
        5 Oct 2021

        Does anyone win gambling? ›

        Key Takeaways. Gambling is not a good alternative for earning extra cash. Each game you play at a casino has a statistical probability against you winning. Slot machine odds are some of the worst, ranging from a one-in-5,000 to one-in-about-34-million chance of winning the top prize when using the maximum coin play.

        How many people gamble in Australia? ›

        6.8 Million Australians gamble regularly.

        How much does an average person gamble? ›

        1% gamble daily. 9% gamble between 2 and 6 times per week. 16% gamble once per week. 17% gamble between 1 and 3 times per month.

        Who is most affected by gambling addiction? ›

        White men are 72% more likely to develop a gambling addiction than 54% of Black males. These men also tend to be in the lowest income bracket and between the ages of 30 to 44. Additionally, white people with problem gambling are more likely than other groups to have an alcohol use disorder or nicotine dependence.

        How do you gamble without losing? ›

        7 Ways to Stop Losing So Much Money in the Casino
        1. 1- Stop Expecting to Get Something for Nothing.
        2. 2- Stop Playing the Slot Machines.
        3. 3- Slow Down—WAY Down.
        4. 4- Stick with Games with a Low House Edge.
        5. 5- Don't Be Shy About Asking for Comps.
        6. 6- Enjoy Some of the Other Activities Available at the Casino.
        19 Aug 2018

        What is the biggest bet ever won? ›

        William Lee Bergstrom (1951 – February 4, 1985) commonly known as The Suitcase Man or Phantom Gambler, was a gambler and high roller known for placing the largest bet in casino gambling history at the time amounting to $777,000 ($2.56 million present day amount) at the Horseshoe Casino, which he won.

        What is the personality of a gambler? ›

        Being highly competitive, a workaholic, impulsive, restless or easily bored may increase your risk of compulsive gambling.

        › blog › gamblers-who-l... ›

        The biggest gambling losses recorded. Read about famous gamblers who lost it all from casino games, poker, and illicit gambling operations,
        Gambling addiction—also known as pathological gambling, compulsive gambling or gambling disorder—is an impulse-control disorder. If you're a compulsive gamb...
        Source: Aaron Friedman. Some say the stock market and investing are just like gambling, but the best investor in the world, Warren Buffett, doesn't think so...

        Does Australia have a gambling problem? ›

        Highest losses in world

        It is estimated that 200,000 Australians have a "high-level problem" with gambling, while up to twice as many more have difficulties at a "lower level".

        Which country spends the most on gambling? ›

        In fact, the biggest gamblers in the world include countries that are least suspect. The ranking of the 200 gambling countries is based on data provided by H2 Gambling Capital.
        ...
        Countries That Gamble The Most.
        RankCountryGaming Losses Per Adult
        1Australia$1,288.00
        2Singapore$1,174.00
        3Ireland$588.00
        4Canada$568.00
        6 more rows

        How many Australians are addicted to gambling? ›

        Australians gamble more than any other nation in the world, and gambling addiction rates continue to soar with over 300,000 Australians currently addicted to gambling — with countless more on the verge.

        How common is gambling addiction in Australia? ›

        Background. Gambling is a mainstream activity across Australia, with increasing accessibility. It is also a significant public health issue, with around 395 000 Australians experiencing harm from problem gambling.

        Which state in Australia gambles the most? ›

        Approximately 95,800 of "pokies" are in NSW, a state total beaten only by Nevada, which operated 181,109 gambling machines in 2014. Between 1 December 2017 to 31 May 2018 NSW Clubs made a net profit of $1,945,161,625 and hotels made a net profit of $1,169,040,731 from pokies alone.

        How much do Australians gamble every year? ›

        Australians spend nearly $20 billion each year on gambling and most is poured into the country's 200,000 poker machines.

        Why Australia has a serious gambling problem? ›

        It is the outcome of a symbiosis between a hugely profitable industry and pliant governments. Half of Australians' losses were on slot or video gambling machines, a grossly outsize proportion compared with other countries. Video gambling machines are good at making money because they are designed to be addictive.

        Why is gambling so popular in Australia? ›

        For Australians, it would seem, gambling is a part of their entertainment heritage. And while gambling was (and is) shunned in many cultures — for reasons that we'll get into in a bit— there has been a global tendency toward gambling acceptance, and gambling availability, in recent decades.

        How many people gamble in Australia? ›

        6.8 Million Australians gamble regularly.

        What percentage of gamblers win? ›

        On any given day, a casino gambler will walk away a winner 30% of the time. This statistic is from the Wall Street Journal.

        How much money does the average person gamble? ›

        reviewed lottery spending data from the U.S. Census Bureau and commercial casino spending data from the American Gaming Association to determine the states spending the most and least on gambling. The average American adult spends around $261 on casinos and lottery tickets per year.

        How much does the average person gamble? ›

        18% gamble between 1 and 3 times per month. 7% gamble between 6 and 11 times per year. 19% gamble between 1 and 5 times per year. 27% do not gamble.

        Do poor people gamble more? ›

        Why do the poor gamble much more than others? Multiple studies show, including from Florida Family Policy Council as well as University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA), that very low income households have an almost 100% higher rate of gambling than the general population.

        What percentage of people have a gambling problem? ›

        Two to 7% of youths develop a gambling disorder, compared with about 1% of adults, and many gambling disorders begin in adolescence. College students also gamble at higher rates than the general population. Family. People who have a parent with a gambling problem are more likely to have problems too.

        What percent of gamblers have a problem? ›

        Approximately 1 percent of the adult population in the United States has a severe gambling problem.

        What are the common types of gambling in Australia? ›

        Gambling participation
        ActivityEstimated numberRegular gambling population
        Race betting97514.3
        Sports betting5748.4
        Keno5498.1
        Casino table games1922.8
        8 more rows

        › news › world-australia-42362194 ›

        Australia has 20% of the world's poker machines, known colloquially as the "pokies". In Western Australia they are confined to a single casino, bu...
        Poker machines; Lottery; Instant scratch-it tickets; Sports betting; Online gambling websites; Keno. What is 'problem gambling'?. For many Australians, ...
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