Worse than Las Vegas: Australia’s $24 billion gambling problem

The obvious problem with gambling is that it is addictive, and Australia appears to be more addicted than the United States. From 2016 to 2019, the Star Casino in Melbourne had 64,000 visitors per day, with only 12 employees monitoring problem gamblers, leaving many people unchecked for addiction. The situation has prompted Crown Casino to investigate whether their gaming licence should be revoked as well, because some of the stories being told are quite shocking, such as how one woman won $8 million on blackjack but gambled away over four times her initial winnings completely unaware of what she was doing until she lost everything two years later.

According to Commissioner Raymond Finkelstein, this would accomplish “next to nothing.” In one case, a customer was allowed to stay in the pokie room for 36 hours straight, despite Crown’s claim that they only allow players to stay for 12 hours before requiring them to take a break. However, as shocking as these stories are, the problem extends far beyond casinos and affects a large proportion of the Australian population.

In an interview with The New Daily on January 19th, Commissioner Raymond Finkelstein stated that he believes that not implementing any changes or restrictions will yield negligible benefits when dealing with problem gambling issues across Australia. One recent example illustrates his point: a person who stayed in a casino’s poker room for 36 hours without taking a break.

How serious is the problem?

Australia may have the highest gambling losses per capita in the world, but they are still insufficient to surpass Qatar’s.

The Arab state spends an average of $1,702 per year on gaming, which is more than double what Australians earn ($958).

Surprisingly, 39% of Australians say they are “regular gamblers,” which is a staggering figure. Winning lottery tickets (the dream) was the most popular type of gambling for Australians, followed by instant scratchies and then pokie machines- an addictive game played on slot machines that can be found in every pub or club across Australia. And those from low-income families gambled 10% more than those from higher-income families!

Another type of tax

The Australian government receives a portion of the money you lose while gambling, and it does not end up in their pockets. The average Australian loses $1,236 per year to gambling, with 10% of that money going directly to our glorious leaders. That’s the equivalent of never having to give up or LMITO again!

The money lost through gaming does not stop with those greedy corporations; some of it also ends up with Australia’s government! So, for every dollar spent on games by the average Australian, roughly 10% of the money goes straight back into Canberra’s coffers. This means that if we all stopped wasting so much money each year by giving what would be equivalent to not needing another Low-Middle-Income Family, we would be able to avoid the need for another Low-Middle-Income Family.

How exactly is the money being squandered?

It is a given that those who play the pokies lose the most. According to the Australian Gaming Council, gaming machines cause $12.5 billion in losses each year, and New South Wales has been known to have some of its pockets lined with such large profits from these devices – roughly equivalent to Fiji as their GDP-ranking country, or about 20% worldwide if you consider this is one of the few countries where people can legally play them outside casinos.

Pokies are the most popular form of gambling in Australia, with nearly half a million active pokie machines at the time of this writing. Pokies are widely available, and some sports teams have made them their primary source of revenue.

COVID lockdowns haven’t worked

Despite the fact that many gamblers were unable to visit a pokie due to mandatory lockdowns, an Australian Institute for Family Services (AIFS) report found that one in every three gamblers had opened a new online betting account. “Despite limited venue access,” the AIFS reports, “overall participants gambled more frequently during COVID-19.” Indeed, the number of people who gamble four or more times per week has increased from 22 percent last year to 23 percent this year. Worryingly, 79 percent were classified as being at risk of gambling-related harm, which is very concerning given that it only increases by 1 percentage point each year!
The rate was especially high among young adults aged 18 to 24:

What can be done?

The phrase “gamble responsibly” appears to have little impact on reducing problem gambling. Following the announcement of a trial in NSW, the Alliance for Gambling Reform is currently pushing for cashless pokie machines.

Rev Costello, a man who has been fighting for stricter gambling regulations in New South Wales since the early 2000s, is ecstatic about William Hill’s latest idea. Users would be required to preload their cards at cashless machines, with a two-hour time limit per card load. Along with that restriction, there will be a limit on how much money can be loaded onto the card at once, reducing the risk of people becoming addicted to it too quickly or going bankrupt.

Former gambler turned gambling reform advocate Anna Bardsley stated that she would like to see cashless gambling safely implemented throughout Australia. “Having to take a break and step away from the machine,” which is designed to addict you, will be beneficial for people who want that circuit breaker because it allows them to assess how much money they are losing while engaging in this activity. Ms. Bardsley also mentioned that time limits are in place so that someone does not spend all day at one terminal trying their luck and eventually winning big or crashing hard with no end in sight. ” I’m cautiously optimistic that this will go well.”

Ms. Bodrey expressed concern about overstimulation when playing online games, but she was confident that regulations would keep things under control.

“If we are to avert the irreversible effects of climate change, we must act quickly and decisively. We can’t afford to be idle.”

“Climate change is occuring, and it is our collective responsibility as a society to take action before it is too late. It will be difficult work, but there are so many opportunities for us all in renewable energy production and infrastructure projects that I am confident that this generation can meet the challenges head on!”

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