Wednesday, 13 September 2017
South Australians are spending tens of millions of dollars less on poker machines each year, with a big drop in poker machine gambling by more than $38 million in the past financial year.
That's according to the University of Adelaide's South Australian Centre for Economic Studies (SACES), which maintains a gambling database tracking poker machine spending for each major region of the state.
The latest figures show poker machine spending dropped to $680 million in 2016/17 – that's down by $112 million from a peak in spending 10 years earlier.
"With the exception of a post Global Financial Crisis rebound, we've effectively seen a year-on-year decline in poker machine spending in South Australia since 2006/07," says SACES Executive Director Michael O'Neil.
"The drop in poker machine gambling over the past financial year is the biggest we've seen in 10 years.
"Major factors that have contributed to this reduced spending include sluggish wages growth, increased pressure on household budgets, and competition from other forms of entertainment, including smartphone and gambling apps. We've also seen a maturation of the poker machine industry, meaning the novelty factor has worn off," Associate Professor O'Neil says.
"It is not possible from a state-wide review of the decline in poker machine spending to conclude that there has been a reduction in problem gambling."
The SACES gambling database breaks down poker machine gambling by each major region in the state, with 41 of the 44 designated regions experiencing a drop in spending over the past financial year.
As the major entertainment hub of the state, the Adelaide area continued to have the highest level of poker machine gambling expenditure: $1099 per adult. This is followed by Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, with $1021 in poker machine gambling per adult.
Port Augusta ($927 per adult), Whyalla ($810), Port Lincoln ($774) and Gawler ($751) are the next highest poker machine spenders in the state.
The lowest poker machine spending can be found in the regional council of Goyder in the mid north of the state ($114 per adult), and in other northern areas.
By 30 June 2017 there was an average of nine poker machines per 1000 South Australian adults, down from a peak of almost 13 machines per 1000 adults in 2003.
Associate Professor O'Neil says: "Regional areas figure prominently in the large declines in poker machine gambling. This may reflect factors such as weak population growth or decline, and the impact of the mining downturn."
A full commentary on the latest gambling database findings is now published online on the SA Centre for Economic Studies' Economic Policy Forum.