Australian research sheds light on online gambling trends

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Australian research sheds light on online gambling trends

New research funded by Gambling Research Australia has found that more Australians than ever before are gambling on their phone.

Mirage News reports that a two-year study, the Second National Study of Interactive Gambling in Australia, surveyed more than 15,000 Australians and found 17.5 per cent of adults had gambled online in 2019, up from 8.1 per cent in 2010.

The study also found that overall gambling participation decreased from 64.3 per cent in 2010 to 56.9 per cent in 2019.

CQUniversity’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory Professor Nerilee Hing said Australia’s most popular forms of online gambling were lotteries (10.1 per cent), race betting (5.9 per cent) and sports betting (5.8 per cent).

“This growth in online gambling has been driven by faster internet speeds, the convenience of betting on smartphone apps, extensive advertising and inducements and new betting options like multi-bets,” Professor Hing said.

“New online activities have also been introduced, including e-sports, fantasy sports, skin gambling and loot boxes.”

The study found the average online gambler was likely to be a young male, better educated than the average Australian, in a de facto relationship and to gamble across multiple activities.

The Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments are currently implementing the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering.

The intent of the framework is to bring Australian consumer protection measures up to date, to ensure they reflect best practice nationally and are consistent across jurisdictions.

The National Framework consists of 10 consumer protection measures that aim to reduce gambling harm.

This was also the first national study to examine the negative consequences of gambling for gamblers, their family and friends.

Overall, 9.1 per cent of Australian adults experienced some level of harm from their own gambling and 6 per cent from another person’s gambling.

Online gamblers were also twice as likely as land-based only gamblers to experience harm.

Self-exclusion gambling controls don’t work: Sydney Uni research

Research findings by the University of Sydney have revealed that voluntary betting controls generally don’t work.

A study of 40,000 gamblers in Australia found that a government ‘opt-out’ policy saw a radical shift in online betting behaviour.

The study, conducted by the Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic (GTRC) at the University of Sydney, also found that when not required to, the overwhelming majority of online gambling customers did not use voluntary tools designed to limit problem gambling.

The research into leading Australian gambling sites found that of the 6,000 people who used deposit limits, a majority stuck to their limit during the course of a year, while one in four changed their limit to make it less restrictive and one in eight decreased or removed the limit altogether.

“The marked success of the ‘opt-out’ limit setting policy has important implications; suggesting this strategy can be used to encourage other responsible gambling behaviours,” co-author Associate Professor Sally Gainsbury said.

Lead author Dr Robert Heirene said that during the study, a policy implemented in May 2019 requiring online gambling sites to make customers set a deposit limit or actively opt out of setting one, had major implications for consumer protection.

“We noted a spike in the use of deposit limits, which coincided with a new government policy whereby online gamblers had to opt out or set deposit limits.

“The uptake is in line with trends in organ donations following the change to an opt-out policy, rather than opt-in, which similarly saw a spike in participation.

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