An astounding $24.887 billion was lost by Australians gambling in the year 2017-2018, data released today has shown.
Gambling losses have grown across the board from poker machines through to sports gambling, draining money from Australian communities.
Alliance for Gambling Reform Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello, said Australia could no longer afford to sustain the unfathomable impacts of the gambling harm associated with such disturbingly high losses.
“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.
“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.”
Rev Costello said New South Wales had retained its dubious title as the state experiencing the worst gambling harm.
“The people of NSW increased their total gambling losses by 3.2% to $9.8 billion,” he said. “That’s almost what Australia spends on Newstart and sickness benefits combined!
“Victoria is sadly playing catch-up to NSW though, increasing its losses by 6.2% to $5.8 billion.
“We would like to congratulate Western Australia on reducing its gambling losses by 3.2% to $1.3 billion, and Tasmania for dropping losses by 1.6%, and the ACT by 0.4%.”
Rev Costello said at current rates Australians would lose more than $25 billion gambling in 2018-2019.
“That’s a number over which our political leaders should be hanging their heads in shame,” he said.
“So much of that money is coming from people who can least afford it. This is an industry that literally preys on people, designing poker machines to addict people, inducing people with gambling problems to continue to gamble with promises of so-called free bets and the like.
“The relentless betting ads are working, growing the sportsbetting industry in 16.3% to $1.2 billion. The industry has doubled in size since 2013-2014
“Is it any wonder this is happening in Australia when our national sporting codes have partnerships with gambling companies, and gambling advertising is so prolific on television, radio, online and in outdoor advertising? It’s inescapable even when you don’t want to be exposed to it.
“Our governments can and should do better. It’s time they cared about Australians instead of the wealthy few people and companies draining our citizens.
“It’s time that gambling harm is addressed as the public health issue it so clearly is.”
Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe on 0491 209 436 or [email protected]